IWD 2018: How to #PressforProgress on Gender Equality

IWD 2018: How to #PressforProgress on Gender Equality

by Felicity Menzies
On March 8, International Women’s Day (IWD) recognises the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

We Must Continue to #PressforProgress

The International Women’s Day 2018 campaign theme is #PressforProgress. Despite a clear business case for gender equality, the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take another 217 years until we achieve gender parity in the workplace. Even more alarming is that progress towards gender parity has reversed. The estimated time needed to ensure full equality in the workplace jumped from 80 years in 2014 to 170 years last year to 217 years in November 2017.

Barriers to Workplace Equality

IWD 2018 corporate sponsor, EY, identifies five barriers to achieving gender parity in the workplace:
  1. The reality disconnect: Business leaders assume the issue is nearly solved, despite little progress within their own companies.
  2. The data disconnect: Companies don’t effectively measure how well women are progressing through the workforce and into leadership.
  3. The pipeline disconnect: Companies aren’t creating pipelines for future female leaders.
  4. The perception and perspective disconnect: Men and women have different views on the gender diversity gap and how to solve it. EY reports that almost half (43%) of men surveyed said that the biggest barrier to women’s careers was a shortage of female candidates. Only 7% of women agreed. Similarly, whereas 44% of men said that work-family conflict is a top barrier to greater female representation at leadership, only 24% of women said raising a family was a significant barrier to career progression. When it comes to gender bias, only 15% of men said organisational bias hinders a women’s careers, whereas almost double that percentage of women (28%) said bias is a significant barrier. Men and women also differ in what they believe would help progress gender equality, with over half of female respondents saying mentoring from senior leaders would help women reach leadership positions, compared with only 29% of men. Networking opportunities are also cited as an important enabler by nearly three times as many women as men.
  5. The progress disconnect: Different industries agree on the value of diversity, but are making uneven progress towards achieving gender diversity.

Collectively, We Can Drive Change

#PressforProgress advocates for progressive, collective action and shared responsibility for driving gender parity. #MeToo and #TimesUp have demonstrated the power of a collective force. There is now real momentum behind changing work cultures and practices to combat sexual harassment. Collectively, our individual efforts can drive change.

How To #PressforProgress

The IWD website offers examples of individual actions that can collectively progress gender parity. These are:
Maintaining a Gender Parity Mindset
  •    Questioning any lack of women’s participation
  •     Identifying alternatives that are more inclusive
  •     Nominating women for opportunities
  •     Always including and supporting women
  •     Thinking “50/50” as the goal
Challenging Stereotypes and Bias
  •     Questioning assumptions about women
  •     Challenging statements that limit women
  •     Always using inclusive language
  •     Working to remove barriers to women’s progress
  •     Buying from retailers who position women in positive ways
Forging Positive Visibility of Women
  •     Identifying ways to make women more visible
  •     Extending opportunities to women first
  •     Assuming women want opportunities until declined
  •     Selecting women as spokespeople and leaders
  •     Supporting visible women
Influencing Other’s Beliefs / Actions
  •     Supportively calling-out inappropriate behaviour
  •     Campaigning for equality in meaningful ways
  •     Leading by example via inclusive actions
  •     Being a role model for equality
  •     Actively contributing to changing the status quo
Celebrating Women’s Achievements
  •     Believing achievement comes in many forms
  •     Valuing women’s individual and collective success
  •     Ensuring credit is given for women’s contributions
  •     Celebrating women role models and their journeys
  •     Supporting awards showcasing women’s success

Don’t Stop There

What Women Can Do
  •     Take charge of the next phase of your career; spread the word about what you want, seek guidance and have a plan
  •     Seek mentors to provide advice and guidance, and sponsors to endorse you across wider networks
  •     Consider focused networking to build relationships and connections beyond your existing networks
What Men Can Do
  •     Become a mentor and share your experience and knowledge with female colleagues
  •     Become a sponsor to help female colleagues navigate their career paths; endorse them within your networks
  •     Consider whether your team has sufficient diversity of thought and experience to avoid “groupthink” and develop innovative solutions
  •     Organise networking and social opportunities that involve activities and environments that make everyone feel welcome and comfortable
  •     Create a culture of diversity and inclusiveness that encourages both men and women to excel
  •     Consider critically where unconscious bias impacts your decisions about who to work with, who to hire and how to network and collaborate
What Leaders Can Do
  •     Take a critical view of where your organisation is now and where you need to be
  •     Align your vision of the future with pathways to get there
  •     Don’t assume gender parity will take care of itself. Implement key enablers of gender parity
  •     Set your company a concrete target regarding gender diversity
  •     Measure the progress towards this target by using clear metrics to count the numbers of women at all levels and in all areas of your business
  •     Use this data to identify obstacles and enablers to female career advancement
  •     Be more transparent and accountable about gender diversity — this is an increasingly important issue to stakeholders
  •     Use this data to improve efforts to achieve gender diversity throughout the organisation
  •     Determine what your company must do to become an employer of choice for women
  •     Implement formal programs to identify potential female leaders and develop these women in a way that makes sense to them
  •     Ask your female employees how you could improve the senior leadership pipeline
  •     Create opportunities for open dialogue between men and women about challenges and potential solutions
  •     Make a greater effort to understand this challenge from those who have lived it
  •     Take an active role and support the pipeline of female talent. Advise and sponsor women and encourage all executives — male and female — to do the same
  •     Decide what actions you will take now that will contribute to a more inclusive — and successful —organisation. Commit to making gender diversity your legacy.
  •     Take a holistic, cross-sector view of what’s possible and how to achieve it
  •     Adopt the best practices for achieving gender diversity, no matter where they originated
  •     Consider how you and your organisation can play an active role in improving your industry’s gender diversity

Now, Over To You…

What steps will you take in 2018 to #PressforProgress?
Let’s do this!

Felicity Menzies is CEO and Principal Consultant at Include-Empower.Com, a diversity and inclusion consultancy with expertise in inclusive leadership, unconscious bias, cultural intelligence and inclusion, gender equity, empowering diverse talent. Felicity is an accredited facilitator with the Cultural Intelligence Centre and the author of A World of Difference. Felicity has over 15 years of experience working with and managing diverse workforces in blue chip companies and is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand. Felicity also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.