March is the month of WOMEN! Not only is it Women’s History Month, but it’s also the month of International Women’s Day, which has been celebrated since 1911!
1911?! We know what you’re thinking. How has it been celebrated and recognized for so long, but we still need so much more progress? We hear you. We feel you. But it’s essential to look back at the exceptional progress made since then, thanks to amazing women who have led the way and created an opportunity for those who came after them. When the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote in 1920, it was nicknamed “The Susan B. Anthony Amendment” to honor her work on behalf of women’s suffrage. In 1955, Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, helped launch the civil rights movement. When Jeannette Rankin became the first woman appointed as a member of Congress, she opened the door for the 393 women who have served as U.S. Representatives, delegates, or Senators.
It’s equally important to understand where progress is still needed. At the current rate of change, it will take until 2085 for women to reach parity with men in leadership roles in the U.S. Women are 50.8% of the U.S. population and hold almost 52% of all professional-level jobs, yet American women lag substantially behind men when it comes to their representation in leadership positions. Women hold 16.9% of Fortune 500 board seats, 14.6% of Executive Offices, only 8.1% of women are top earners, and they make up only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs.
Celebrating women this month helps to honor the progress made thus far and helps to push progress forward. Through our celebrations, we can help create a more inclusive world, create a level playing field for women, and create more opportunities for those that come after us. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite ways to celebrate and honor women below, but the best part is that these ideas are great all year round, not just in March!
Your organization includes exceptional women who have varying life experiences, in and out of the office. Inquire and ask them how they would like to celebrate women. This shouldn’t be a one-time check-in for the month of March. Create an on-going dialogue to ensure your organization is continually uplifting your employees and cultivating progress for a better world for all.
Everyone must be responsible for educating themselves, but as an organization, you can also offer your employees resources to educate themselves about why we must continually celebrate women and where progress is needed.
Understanding history and how it still plays a role in today’s dynamics is critical. Have an internal company newsletter? Add a fact from history and the statistics of how it has played out today. Include information about how your organization is supporting this cause. Is a movie coming out with significant historical learnings for today’s modern world? Gift your organization a 1-month subscription to view it.
Offer DEI training. It can help build awareness of unconscious bias, cultural competence, or additional barriers preventing employees in your organization from feeling included and a sense of belonging.
We can all learn a lot from listening. Create a platform and environment where women from all walks of life can share their experiences free of judgment.
The connections you create throughout every facet of your business can help create a more inclusive world.
Connect with women-owned businesses that can service your business needs. Giving out gift bags at an annual conference? This is an excellent opportunity to connect with local women-owned businesses and help spread the word. Is your contract coming to an end with one of your suppliers or services? Do your research, and we’re sure you’ll find a women-owned business that would love the opportunity to work with you.
Connect with local organizations that support the advancement of women and girls. You could share upcoming events relevant to your workforce; you could become a corporate sponsor or get your employees involved and offer a charitable donation match.
(Did you know? ON Point’s CEO and Co-Founder Pam Borton is also the Co-Found and Founder of two Twin Cities-based organizations committed to women and girls’ advancement. TeamWomen is a premier professional women’s organization deeply committed to developing future generations of women in leadership. Empower Leadership Academy‘s mission is to empower, develop, and inspire our next generation of leaders.)
Having an annual conference or event? Connect with women in your industry and invite them to speak or be a part of your panel discussion. This is not only a significant opportunity for them, but it’s critical to present diverse journeys, experiences, and viewpoints to create an equal workforce.
The best way to celebrate women all year round is to give women a platform and amplify their voices and experiences. Feature women from your organization on social media, blog posts, and company publications. Amplify the story of female trailblazers in your industry. Include a diverse panel of women for all annual events, roundtables, and conferences. Promote women to leadership positions. Give women a seat at the table. Every table.