February 24, 2016

Celebrating International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day on March 8th. This is when women with all sorts of experiences and stories to tell come together to celebrate their achievements and push forward the drive for equality.

Since the early 1990s, lots of organisations and countries have run annual International Women’s Day campaigns and events. The UN’s theme for 2016 is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”.

The International Women’s Day website is running a campaign called Pledge for Parity. According to the campaign page, this means: “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”.

Various initiatives will take place around the globe under the International Women’s Day umbrella, including two in London. One is Tech City International Women’s day Showcase. The other is Wow, the Women of the World Festival 2016, a week-long event in its sixth year, tackling all sorts of topics, including women in business.

In 2014, The World Economic Forum predicted that gender parity wouldn’t happen until 2095. Just 12 months later, the organisation revised that prediction, saying that a slowdown in the already very slow progress meant the gender gap would persist until 2133. We very recently published a post that talked about the existing gender pay gap.

A 2015 McKinsey&Company survey, called ‘Women in the workplace’ found that women are still under-represented in the workplace, particularly at a senior level. It said that based on the rate of progress in the three years prior to the research, it would take more than 100 years for the upper echelons of US organisations to achieve gender parity.

There are so many other pieces of research that back these findings up. For example, a report by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, also carried out last year, which revealed that there are still five major issues facing women in the workplace. They are equal pay, harassment, career opportunities, having children while building a career and work-life balance.

The research found that pay was the most pressing workplace issue for four in every 10 women in the 19 G20 countries polled. The most important concern overall, however, was work-life balance – 44% of women said it was the toughest challenge they faced in the workplace. Nearly half (47%) of the women said they wouldn’t let having a child stand in the way of building a career.

Jackie Hyde, founder and director of nursery insurance provider, dot2dot, and winner of the UK Enterprise Vision Award last year, has spoken to female entrepreneurs across a variety of sectors to ask them how women can better their chances in the workplace. They came up with four pieces of business advice to women:

1. Your time is precious, so prioritise ruthlessly. Plan in advance and stick to schedules.
2. How to keep the balance. Work-life balance is hard, but important. Make time for the life bit.
3. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Be inspired by others and remember that other entrepreneurs can be great sounding boards.
4. It’s okay to fail as long as you learn. And don’t give up.