This article was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for relevancy and content.
There are many events and achievements that have occurred over the years that would not have been possible without the contributions of women's rights pioneers before us. Landing on the moon, computer algorithms and central heating are just a few examples of things that were all made possible thanks to women (many of whom were not properly credited during their time).
As a female executive, the road to success hasn’t always been paved with gold, and there have been a unique set of challenges I've experienced that come from being a woman in the professional world. That’s why Women's Equality Day is a day we should acknowledge. It is crucial that as women we join together to celebrate this day and commit to continued progress of women's issues by supporting each other’s goals and aspirations.
This holiday wasn’t just given a random date: It marks the day in 1920 on which the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was enacted and some women in the US were first granted the right to vote in federal elections. This helped bring about other milestones of change, one being women of color gaining the right to vote in the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
As a female executive, I don’t take this day lightly. And while it’s easy to forget about all the strides we have made as women, it is something we should take note of daily.
Whether you’re an executive, analyst, strategist, director or freelancer, bringing a few women’s equality best practices to your organization is critical to a diverse and inclusive workforce. The tips below are just a handful of ways you can celebrate Women’s Equality Day not only today, but every day.
Solicit feedback from women
What’s the best way to learn what else you could be doing to support and encourage the women at your organization? Ask them! Don’t be afraid to hold focus groups, send out surveys or set up an anonymous feedback portal where women can provide suggestions on how your company could better support them.
Opening up the conversation and soliciting feedback from the people your programs will impact provides you with a wealth of diverse ideas and feedback you may not have thought of. You hired these individuals for a reason — give them a chance to contribute more.
Support a local women's charity
A screenshot from our Women Who Lead Employee Belonging Group, featuring guest speaker Liz Wessel
This year, our Women Who Lead employee belonging group (EBG) supported the global charity Dress for Success. The charity's goal: empowering women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support. The EBG came together to help support women returning to the workforce with live training sessions, resume reviews and donating toiletries and other essentials for interviews.
I'm proud we were able to help women who have been impacted by the pandemic and other circumstances that have affected their lives.
Consider creating your own support group internally and find your local Dress for Success chapter here.
Brush up on women's history
When was the last time you read about the first gathering devoted to women’s rights or some of the impactful actions the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA) took?
Take the end of this month to provide all of your employees (not just women) with fun and interesting facts on the women’s rights movement.
Start a book club
Consider using books on women in leadership to promote confidence in other women in the workplace. Start up a monthly meeting where you can discuss these themes with peers and encourage everyone to apply the takeaways in daily work. Discussing these themes around women empowerment is so critical because it provides the support and tools for women who want to reach for more. It's a great way to commit to helping elevate our female employees' careers.
At WilsonHCG, we've discussed women in leadership extensively — inspired by some of these titles! Check them out:
- How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back From Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith
- Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
- Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
- The Likeability Trap by Alicia Menendez
- Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Continuing to make strides for gender equality requires education and knowledge. There are a number of resources, statistics and information available that you can share with your teams and peers to educate.
A particularly impactful statistic that is uplifting to see is that the percentage of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 has increased to 8%. The United Kingdom's FTSE 100 have increased the percentage of women in directorship positions from 15% in 2012 to more than 34% in 2020. These women all around the globe are breaking records in spite of the global pandemic and making strides to lead some of the world's top companies. Continuing this trend is vital so women can continue pushing one another and we all can achieve our true potential.
As the mother of a daughter, it's important for me to create a future where young girls and women feel empowered to achieve anything they dream. I'm inspired to be a driving force of continued progress so my daughter grows up knowing she can be anything she wants to be!