Enough is Enough: An IWD Status Check

UN IWD 2022 Image

Like having a birthday, every year on International Women’s Day many of us take stock and wonder…have we made any progress? Is IWD still necessary? Let’s check in with the facts:
 Women today are now:
·    More likely than men to attend college
·    More likely than men to graduate from a 4-year college
Yet…
·    We’re paid $0.82 for every $1.00 a man is paid for the same job (and women of color even less) in addition to undertaking more than 75% of unpaid care work in the world
·    Since February 2020, women in the US alone have lost more than 5.4 million net jobs (globally, women’s employment dropped by 4.2% between 2019 and 2020, compared with 3% for men), mainly due to shouldering unpaid care work responsibilities
·    We’re only 8% of Fortune 500 Companies CEOs (41 women)
·    And 25% of Fortune 500 Companies total C-Suite positions
 At this point, we have to wonder: IS there a ‘glass ceiling’ or are we just dealing with people in power who fail to hire, mentor and promote women?

I used to feel more open-minded and generous on IWD, but this year in particular, as we witness outrageous acts of unprovoked war, cataclysmic turns in international relations, and little meaningful action on combatting climate change, I feel angry.
Would the world be in better shape if women were running it? Would care work and education be more valued? Or are people in power by definition in it to win it for themselves? How do we really move the needle, since waiting 136 years for pay gap parity alone seems a bit long?
In events leading up to IWD this week, some good ideas have been shared. BritCham keynote speaker Laura Mitchelson reminded leaders that we all need to work hard to create “safe spaces” for inclusive dialogue and to model the behavior and culture we want to see. “Policies don’t work as well as leaders and managers modeling the behavior they’re seeking, day in and day out,” said Gayle Helen Lacey, Chief Risk Officer of HSBC China.
Fedra Fateh, founder of the Lady Boss Campaign, goes a step further and sets the goal of achieving gender parity in heads of state and Fortune Global 500 CEOs by 2050. The LBC lays out two demands: first, that all Fortune 500 companies annually publish the number of men and women in their C-suite positions. Second, that the world’s most powerful asset management funds withhold investment from any company not reaching the annual C-suite gender parity targets, akin to divestment from fossil fuels. 
This might sound like a big ask, but not when you compare revenue from 2019 and 2020 and find that companies where women held more than 30% of board seats outperformed their peers in 11 of 15 sectors.* According to the Harvard Business Review, “Research has shown evidence that firms with more women in senior positions are more profitable, more socially responsible, and provide safer, higher-quality customer experiences — among many other benefits.”**
So why isn’t the needle moving? 
Last year on IWD, I wrote a piece called, “I am Enough.” While that holds true, what companies and governments are doing to hire, mentor and promote women is NOT enough. It seems without financial ramifications, not much changes – from climate change to the faces of leadership. As women, we’ve worked hard, proven ourselves equal or better suited to lead, and it is now past time for real, accountable change. Enough is enough.

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