International Women’s Day (IWD) is held on March 8th each year, with celebrations occurring since 1911. This global day is a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political accomplishments of women. International Women’s Day also marks the need for accelerating gender equality, especially in the workplace and considering the recent spotlight on the Gender Pay Gap in Ireland and the UK. However, impactful transformations don’t happen overnight, but that doesn’t mean you should pass over International Women’s Day without any nod to what it represents. So we have provided a few ideas on how to show support as an employer:
Support women who are returning to work.
While providing a generous maternity leave package is a good starting point on, this alone isn’t enough to ensure your female employees feel supported at work. More focus is required to support women returning to work, to set them up for success once they return to their positions. The transition back to work can be daunting as a survey commissioned by New Ireland Assurance found that half of returning mothers were nervous about going back to work and just over 25 per cent felt they had no support from employers before returning.
There are many ways to build a supportive work culture when returning such as offering a flexible or part-time schedule, perhaps build a network exclusively for new mothers coming back to work – or, even better, ask the returning mother what they would find most helpful to aid their return to work
Close the Gender Pay Gap
The gender pay gap is a high-priority issue that’s received significant attention in the past few years, with women earning 20% less than men on average. As an employer, you can make a difference in your own business by implementing best practices around compensation, such as conducting a pay-gap analysis. Another tactic to consider is introducing salary transparency. While this is a tricky initiative to navigate and isn’t necessarily the be-all and end-all answer, it can be a huge step forward in terms of advocating equal pay for both sexes.
This also benefits you as an employer, when employees know they are rewarded equally for the work they do, they are more likely to put in extra effort and work harder for your company. Regardless of what you choose, the first step forward is opening the conversation.
Review Workplace Policies.
IWD is a great time to do an in-depth review of your company policies. An excellent place to start with the language used in official workplace policies and procedures to ensure that appropriate pronoun are used in addressing all people at your company. Also, do they fairly address the concerns and needs of all employees or healthcare benefits provided for the men and women equally? Ask yourself some of these questions to assess how your workplace policies can further benefit and empower women throughout your office. If you’re in the position to do so, recommend or make changes so that all voices can be heard.
Celebrate Women In the office
If you have time to plan, organise a day of celebrations in the office around IWD. Some ideas to celebrate the day are to bring in speakers to address critical gender-focused issues, sponsor a women’s charity, or give a presentation on what your company is doing to raise women in the workplace.
So how will you celebrate International Women’s Day in your workplace?