It is International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March. IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It was honoured the first time in 1911.
It is regarded as one of the most important days to:
- celebrate women’s achievements
- raise awareness about women’s equality
- lobby for accelerated gender parity
- fundraise for female-focused charities
The theme for this year’s IWD is #embraceequity, but what does this mean? According to IWD;
The words equity and equality are often used interchangeably.
“Etymologically, the root word they share is aequus, meaning “even” or “fair” or “equal” – which led to equity being from the Latin aequitas, and equality from aequalitas. Yet, despite these similarities, equity and equality are inherently different concepts, and the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme seeks to help forge worldwide conversation about this important issue and its impact.
So, what’s the difference between equity and equality – and why is it important to understand, acknowledge and value this?
Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.
Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
The IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme seeks to get the world talking about why “equal opportunities are no longer enough” – and can in fact be exclusionary, rather than inclusive.”
On the surface it’s easy to believe that by giving different individuals the same opportunity is being fair and promoting equality however those individuals’ circumstances are unlikely to be the same. For example, a business runs an employee reward program and the prize for their good performance is a bottle of champagne. From the business’s perspective, they are being equal as every employee has an opportunity to win a bottle of champagne. However, what the business has not considered is if this is a feasible reward for every employee. What if an employee can’t drink due to religious or health reasons? The reward is therefore not equitable and could be considered discriminatory against the employees who can’t drink alcohol.
There are several ways a business can celebrate equity in the workplace. CIPD have provided some handy pointers however if you are looking to change policy or understand ways in which to change your business culture please reach out for advice;
Provide equitable opportunities: ensure that all employees, regardless of sex, race, age, or any other protected characteristic, are treated equitably and are given tailored support to access opportunities for career advancement, training, and professional development.
Establish inclusive policies: develop policies and procedures that promote inclusivity, such as diversity and inclusion training, flexible work arrangements, and accommodations for employees with disabilities.
Implement fair pay practices: conduct regular pay equity analyses, including gender pay gap reporting, to ensure employees are paid fairly for their work, regardless of their sex or other characteristics.
Foster a supportive culture: create a culture of support and inclusivity, where employees feel comfortable sharing their experiences and challenges, and where everyone is encouraged to contribute their ideas and perspectives.
Address harassment and discrimination: establish clear guidelines and procedures for addressing harassment and discrimination in the workplace and ensure that all employees are aware of their rights and options for reporting incidents.
Amplify diverse voices: encourage employees from underrepresented groups to speak up and share their perspectives and ensure that diverse voices are heard and valued in decision-making processes.
Provide resources for work-life balance: offer resources and support for employees to achieve work-life balance, such as subsidised childcare, enhanced family-related leave, and mental health support.”
This may also be a good opportunity to set up a focus group and a safe environment where your female employees may openly express any issues that they may be facing in the workplace. This could result in a review of any policies and working practices to consider whether they may have a negative impact on women.
Having great working relationships with our clients, we are aware that you value the contribution made by all of your employees to your business. International Women’s Day is a wonderful time to celebrate female employees’ achievements and to heighten awareness. However, please always involve your colleagues of all genders in any activity.
International Women’s Day is a time to reflect and for us all to work towards greater gender parity in all aspects of life.