Celebrating International Women’s Day Makes Good Business Sense

#BeBoldForChange is this year’s theme celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8. IWD was started in the early 1900’s in conjunction with women’s participation in the labor movement. The intention of IWD is to honor, appreciate and hold up for public notice women around the world as well as those in our community – their achievements, their challenges, their contributions, their current status and their dreams. Unlike Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day where only certain women get recognized, IWD acknowledges all women from every walk of life everywhere.

What can you do to celebrate IWD? As an organization, you can talk about it and mark the day in some significant way. An example here is Google. The Google Doodle is usually changed to honor IWD on March 8. As head of your company or a key leader in one, you can declare support for parity for women and your company’s commitment. Sir Richard Branson stated the following last year to support IWD and closing the gender gap when he said:

“Here at Virgin, we recognize that a culture that brings together the right group of people who mirror the wonderful diversity of our world and who can promote diversity of thought is good for business. It’s a huge opportunity, not a challenge, and it’s great for the communities that we serve. We have the desire to make a positive difference to people’s lives through changing business for good, so we create an environment where all people can thrive – because of who they are, not in spite of it. That’s why, on International Women’s Day, I support the Pledge for Parity. It’s an important reminder that all of us in business can and must do so much more to promote equality, respect and fairness.” (https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Leader/990/Virgin-Sir-Richard-Branson)

I was speaking with the general manager of a business unit about IWD and he wasn’t sure how to acknowledge it. He eventually decided to send a hand written note to all the women in his area of responsibility recognizing the day and how much that female employee is appreciated. Many organizations hold special events and conferences in conjunction with IWD in order to remind women of progress made and to also show where the gender gap still exists. I recently attended a luncheon sponsored by Working Women of Tampa Bay  where the guest speaker, Brenda Steele MacCrimmon, shared her experiences living around the world. The inequities she observed stimulated her to start a sustainable business that sells products made by women under humane circumstances (Jo’el Worldwear).

On an individual level, you can support a women’s cause in honor of the day or a specific woman. Take a stance on an issue related to equality for women and take action to address it. Alternatively, you can simply thank the women in your life and tell them you appreciate them. In some Eastern European countries, women are given bouquets of flowers as they walk down the street from people they don’t know to honor them as women on IWD. My point here is that IWD celebrations are as diverse and individual as women are themselves. Please acknowledge the day and even better do something to support women.