March 8th. is International Women’s Day. It’s worth noting the history of this event and why it is celebrated on that particular date. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.
Having this date dedicated to women, provides us with a great opportunity to celebrate all the women in our lives, whatever the role they might play. It’s well worth taking time to consider what those roles might be and how they affect us. They may be family members, friends, colleagues, people we meet at the various activities we take part in outside of work and home, our doctor, dentist, physiotherapist, bus driver, the list is endless.
The first thing we need to do is to thank them for the contribution they make and let them know that it you appreciate all they do. If you are in business, you can celebrate your female employees by recognising them, not just in the workplace, but on social media.
You can make a point of contacting your female clients on that day and telling them that you are thinking of them on International Women’s Day. You might like to hold an event for your female clients, perhaps organise a lunch or dinner for them or a gift of some sort. I would suggest a donation to a women’s charity, in their name would be one option.
In March 2016, as part of an article entitled Ways Your Company Can Celebrate International Women’s Day, Katie Burke suggested amongst other things:
Make celebrating a team sport
One of the biggest mistakes companies make with women’s initiatives is only engaging women in the conversation. 70% of men believe gender diversity is important, and given that men represent 83% of C-Suite executives, leaving guys out of the conversation leaves a lot of opportunity for change and transformation on the table. Your success as an organization as it relates to inclusion is directly proportional to the degree that you make empowering women a core part of your business philosophy rather than a one-off network or affinity group for women only, so consider including all employees in your celebration, regardless of how you choose to participate in the day.”
Burke also went on to encourage discussion, in the section:
Start A dialogue
A quarter billion women have entered the workplace worldwide since 2006, yet the World Economic Forum’s 2016 survey shows women make as much money as men did a decade ago. The challenges for women in the workplace aren’t relegated to pay: only 14.2% of the top five leaders in S&P 500 companies are women. The numbers are staggering, but what’s often missing is a dialogue within organizations on how to make gender equity a priority.
Taking the time to engage in the discussion, to solicit ideas on what can be better, and create a meaningful space for men and women to share ideas on this topic is an easy way to make a big impact. We assembled a guide for companies to start this discussion for a Blog Club, so even if you don’t have time for a lot of planning, it’s easy and fast to host a meaningful discussion around the day.”
Finally, Burke pointed out the ways in which empowering women is good not only for your brand, but also your business:
“..studies show teams with more women perform better and companies with women in leadership roles outperform those without female leaders so everyone at your organization should have a vested interest in creating a workplace that actively empowers and engages female employees in a meaningful way. Whether you’ve been celebrating International Women’s Day for years or are just hearing about it for the first time this year, getting in the game is a great way to make your workplace and employment brand more inclusive.
If you’re still on the fence about jumping in, we created a Powerful Woman Playlist you can rock out to at work, an inspiration video of remarkable women, and a blog club discussion guide you can use easily today to celebrate. Start a dialogue, run an event, thank someone you admire, but whatever you do, don’t be afraid to get started–creating even one conversation or opportunity can have a huge impact on your candidates, customers, and your company’s commitment to women.”
So, as International Women’s Day approaches, these ideas may provide you with food for thought. Also, it’s important to remember that, whilst we celebrate women, we must make a concerted effort to ensure that we ( both men and women) provide them with opportunities, mentor them and inspire them in order that they fulfill their potential and achieve their goals,
I would like to take the opportunity to recognise and thank all the women I encounter in both my personal and business lives for all the worthwhile, gracious and invaluable contributions they make.
About the Author
Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNN, BBC, CBC, The Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.
In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com and see what he can do for you in the long run.