So what can you do to take action to put gender on the agenda this International Women's Day and beyond?
1. Make a Pledge For Parity
Everyone - men and women - can pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly, whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias. Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to help include and advance women. Share amongst your friends, social networks and communities and encourage them to make a pledge as well. Together, we can accelerate the clock.
2. Develop a Pledge For Parity campaign
An internal Pledge campaign demonstrates your organization’s commitment to gender parity and helps your people understand how everyone can play a role in achieving it quicker
- Develop a digital platform highlighting key statistics emphasizing the importance of gender parity
- Develop pledges based addressing gaps in your organization
- Ask employees to select a Pledge and upload their professional image announcing their Pledge
- Make all Pledges available to online so people can see who pledged across your organization, encouraging colleagues to join the campaign
- Solicit feedback periodically from those who have pledged to identify if they've made a difference through their pledge or if someone else's pledge impacted them
3. Host a Pledge For Parity event to help accelerate gender parity
Conduct an event to celebrate International's Women's Day and build momentum for #PledgeForParity
- Erect a #PledgeForParity selfie station by setting up a selfie stand in a prominent office location where people can come by, take pledge selfies and share them socially via #PledgeForParity
- Host an hour of content by selecting a pertinent subject, such as flexible working or the importance of sponsors and mentors, and spend some time sharing leading practice and experience (see IWD Resources), then conclude the event inviting everyone to take #PledgeForParity selfies and share them socially
4. Host a prominent speaker
Host a community leader/advocate of gender parity to share personal experience and inspire engagement
- Conduct a Q&A session for people to share feedback and experiences
- Conclude the event by inviting everyone to take #PledgeForParity selfies and share them socially
Why is gender parity important?
Gender parity is linked to economic prosperity. It's an economic imperative. Women’s advancement and leadership are central to business performance and economic prosperity. Profitability, ROI and innovation all increase when women are counted among senior leadership.
Numerous global studies on the impact of women in leadership reveal the following findings:
- Women are the largest emerging market in the world
- More equality > higher GDP
- More equality > more productivity
- Better gender balance on boards > better share price and financial performance
- More gender-balanced leadership > better all-around performance
- More women political leaders > more prosperity
What makes a difference?
The World Economic Forum estimates at current rates gender parity will not be achieved until 2133. We wouldn't wait 117 years to implement any other business imperative offering so much, so why are we waiting for this one? The report,Women. Fast Forward: The time for gender parity is now, offers some ideas on how to accelerate the 117-year projection. It features results from a survey of men and women leaders in 400 companies around the world to identify the biggest barriers and accelerators to women's career advancement. Key findings include:
- Men and women alike agree that more female leadership leads to stronger companies
- 64% of high-performing companies reported that men and women have equal influence on strategy in their organizations, compared with only 43% of the lower-performing companies
- Men seem to be aware of the unconscious bias in the workplace that holds women back, which means we now can spend more time identifying and eradicating it
What accelerates women’s advancement?
There are three accelerators, working independently and together, that can change the trajectory of women’s advancement:
- Illuminate the path to leadership by making career opportunities more visible to women
- Speed up culture change with progressive corporate policy, such as paternity leave and flexible working
- Build supportive environments and work to eliminate conscious and unconscious bias
Read EY's Pledge For Parity campaign case study
EY has a successful Pledge For Parity campaign whereby their people commit to taking one specific action to advance women in their workplace. EY's proud of their people, but they know that achieving gender parity is a task larger than any single organization. That's why they're sharing their pledge campaign with organizations large and small that may be interested in creating a Pledge for Parity campaign for their own employees.
Firstly EY understood the need for gender parity
EY understood that advancing women is a global business and economic imperative and that profitability, return on investment (ROI) and innovation all increase when women are counted among senior leadership. They utilized many indepth resources.
Then they developed a digital platform
EY developed and ran the Women. Fast forward Pledge for Parity campaign to accelerate change within EY. They developed a digital platform, including key statistics on the business imperative of gender parity, and invited everyone in their organization globally to make a pledge for parity.
They identified key drivers
In The time for gender parity is now, EY identified three accelerators that independently and collectively help change the trajectory of women’s advancement. They then used these accelerators to develop nine pledges that their people could choose to make a commitment from.
Accelerator #1 - Illuminate the path to leadership: make career opportunities more visible to women
- I pledge to help a woman on my team identify and secure her next promotion
- I pledge to identify opportunities for women on my teams to lead
- I pledge to become a better teammate by learning more about why gender parity matters
Accelerator #2 - Speed up culture change with progressive corporate policy
- I pledge to help create a culture of flexibility for everyone on my team
- I pledge to encourage men on my teams to take paternity leave
- I pledge to seek out perspectives different from my own and encourage everyone to contribute
Accelerator #3 - Build supportive environments and work to eliminate conscious and unconscious bias
- I pledge to become a sponsor for a woman to help her achieve her professional ambitions
- I pledge to challenge our leaders to ensure men and women are treated equally
- I pledge to become more aware of my own biases and work to eliminate them
Their people made a pledge
EY's people then selected the pledge that resonated best, and they uploaded their pledge along with a professional looking image. Each pledge was automatically added to a private online photo gallery that contains all the pledges from across EY, allowing their people to see who has pledged and what commitments have been made. EY generated 2,700+ pledges in 60 days, with a split close to 50/50 between men and women. By participating in the Pledge For Parity, EY's people committed to taking one specific action to advance women in their workplace.
EY's proud of their people, but they know that achieving gender parity is a task larger than any single organization. That’s why they’re sharing their pledge campaign with organizations large and small that may be interested in creating a Pledge For Parity campaign for their own employees. Feedback has been very positive, and momentum continues.