I love March and its celebration of Women’s History month and International Women’s Day. It gives us a chance to recognize the wonderful milestones accomplished by many courageous women over time. It also creates a renewed focus on the need to continue to make progress.
Women’s History month goes all the way back to 1857. It is now 2021, and according to the World Economic Forum’s annual “Global Gender Gap Report 2020” we are 99.5 years away from global gender parity. And if you look at the gap in terms of economic participation, that number is 257 years, 52 years longer than it was pre-pandemic. Women have lost ground. We have a long way to go!
The good news is, as more women reach visible positions of power, it creates a virtuous cycle. Role-modeling is an important component for increasing the velocity for women in future generations. In fact, countries with higher levels of women in political power tend to have higher levels of women in business leadership.
In March 1857, Women’s History month began with women from various New York City factories staging a protest over poor working conditions. We do not know the name of any of these women, but it goes to show how progress is often made by the courage of everyday voices. Voices that can be amplified by others.
In March 2021, I want to encourage you to be the change. I want to encourage you to take action. Several years ago, I challenged our Signature alumni to make a difference by looking behind them and selecting two women to intentionally help pave their path. (www.twothroughyou.com) Each of you can make a difference, too. If each of you picked just two ladies behind you, and each of them picked two, we could quickly close this gap so that our very own daughters and granddaughters have a chance to see a gender equal business world.
Here is how you can help:
Select two ladies you do not know well. Ideally, choose two who are different from you, as this helps you learn and grow as well.
Tell them your intention to learn about them and what they care about and to be there to support them along their journey. Intentionally make time for growing these relationships.
Understand their gifts, and help them to see where they might more fully utilize them within your organization. Advocate for broader exposure for them.
Be sure to point out what you see in them…especially when you hear them say “I’m not ready for that.” You insist they are ready.
Amplify their voice when they cannot be heard.
Let’s Choose to Challenge.
“Choose to Challenge” is the theme for International Women’s Day on March 8th. While protesters like the women in New York in 1857 are important, that is not the only way to create change. Change can happen with one voice speaking up or one person taking action. You can make the difference. Let’s not be supporters only. Let’s choose to challenge and be the change.