Revelations of sexual harassment, the #metoo movement and the #timesup campaign have put women’s equality in the spotlight. That makes 2018 the perfect year for your business to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), March 8.
Launched in 1911 by suffragettes supporting votes for women, International Women’s Day activities celebrate women’s achievements worldwide, work toward gender parity and encourage gender inclusiveness. This year’s theme is “Press for Progress,” to motivate people “to think, act and be gender inclusive.”
International Women’s Day is not specific to one country, group or organization. The IWD website recommends five things everyone can do to push forx parity:
- Maintain a gender parity mindset
- Challenge stereotypes and bias
- Promote positive visibility for women
- Influence others' beliefs and actions
- Celebrate women’s achievements
- Be inclusive. Do you have departments or teams that are dominated by men? What about business organizations you participate in? Speak up, call it out and take active steps toward making your business or organization more inclusive.
- Mentor women. How can you help women advance? Offer to mentor women in organizations you belong to or set up a mentorship program in your company.
- Help women in your community. Volunteer for or donate to nonprofits that help women in your area start businesses, become economically self-sufficient or escape poverty.
- Inspire the next generation. Offer to speak to local schools or girls’ organizations about career opportunities in your industry, or about being an entrepreneur. (The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is the official charity of IWD, so your local Girl Scout troop could be a good place to start.)
- Identify bias in your own business. Does your marketing and advertising support stereotypes about women? If your website features a pretty woman in a tight dress, it’s time to change.
- Clean your own house. Are women in your business paid comparably to men in the same or similar jobs? Do you provide training to help prevent sexual harassment and take it seriously? Don’t just talk the talk; walk the walk, too.
- Support women-owned and -run businesses. Your chamber of commerce, the National Association of Women Business Owners, American Business Women’s Association, and Catalyst can help you identify businesses big and small that support or are owned by women.
- Help women build their networks. Write positive online reviews of local women-owned businesses you work with. Recommend or endorse women you work with on LinkedIn and refer them to potential customers.
- Hold an event for women in your industry. It doesn’t have to be a big conference. How about a luncheon or networking event discussing the progress and future of women in your industry?
- Promote awareness. Create a marketing campaign around IWD. Donate a percentage of your sales for the month of March to a women’s organization, or offer discounts on products made by women-owned businesses.
- Spread the word on social media. Use the hashtag #pressforprogress on social media posts related to International Women’s Day. The IWD website has some suggestions for creative imagery you can use in your IWD social media posts to support the theme of pressing for progress. Send your social media posts to IWD; they’ll share some of the most engaging posts on their website and social channels.
Want more ideas? Search for IWD events here. You may find local events to participate in, or get inspired by other planned events. Publish your event here. The site also has widgets, selfie cards, videos, posters and other tools to promote IWD.
Remember, International Women's Day isn’t just one day. March 8 is only the start of a yearlong campaign to #pushforparity. How will your business help?
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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