Welcome to March and Women’s History Month. While corporate DEI efforts shouldn’t be limited to commemorative months & holidays, I do find as a DEI officer that these markers can help shape programming and initiatives throughout the year.
The Women’s History Month theme for 2022 is “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” This theme was chosen in honor of caregivers and frontline workers during this pandemic, in addition to recognizing the many ways that women provided healing and hope throughout history.
Your corporate efforts can use that theme as inspiration, or you can simply spotlight the work of women throughout history who have fought for equity – including the women in your organization who continue to move the work forward. Many women who are still in the workforce today were told in their early interviews, “We already have a woman here!” And yet, they persisted. Yes, there is room for improvement. But it’s also important to acknowledge and celebrate those who have advanced the ball. Here are 6 ways companies can plan meaningful Women’s History Month activities:
1. Host Guest Speaker Sessions
There are plenty of great topics to get into for Women’s History Month. Bring a guest speaker to give a motivational or educational talk. They can cover issues such as history and progress in the fight for equal rights, different layers that emerge in the intersectionality of identity, or dig into data around pay and promotion gaps. Speakers may also be ready to incorporate the 2022 theme of “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.”
Carefully consider the speaker’s content to ensure that it resonates with your workforce. For example, the message that women should be “more strategic” and “doing more for their advancement” may not be well received by the women in your workforce.
2. Get Your ERG Involved
If your organization has an employee resource group (ERG) for women, get their feedback about your Women’s History Month plans. Amplify their programming this month through resourcing, leadership attendance, and company-wide communication.
If you don’t have an ERG for women, now is the time to create one. Check out this guide with examples of building a successful women’s ERG. Members of PracticalESG.com can also listen to this 15-minute podcast with Loule Gebremedhin, who is the Association Director of Engagement, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Disability Rights California.
3. Commit to Closing the Gaps
Now is a great time to identify and acknowledge opportunities for improving the advancement of women in your organization. My colleague Liz blogged yesterday on CompensationStandards.com that the pandemic has widened the gender pay gap in the C-suite, and many women have left the overall workforce. Use data to see inequity in compensation, promotion rates, hiring rates, and retention rates. Consider your leadership and board and whether there’s sufficient representation of women. If not, commit to closing this gap, set goals, and share your plans company-wide. Employees appreciate transparency and want to come along the DEI journey. Ensure you keep your commitment and progress on the goals you have set.
4. Support Women-Owned Businesses
Is your organization looking for new suppliers or vendors for your programs this month? Consider ways to support women-owned businesses. Contact your Chamber of Commerce or check out this Directory of Women-Owned Businesses.
5. Partner with Organizations that Support Women
Consider other partnerships you can forge to amplify your support of women. For example, the tech industry has fewer women in engineering positions and leadership due to the inequity in exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. To support women joining the STEM fields, tech companies can consider partnering with schools or organizations to volunteer hours, donate resources, or advocate for policies that advance STEM education for women. For companies in the health industry, consider partnering with organizations that support women’s health. For companies that want to offer global support to women worldwide, check out this list of well-rated nonprofits promoting women’s health, education, rights, and social services.
6. Make it Intersectional
As you plan for programming this month, consider the intersectionality of identity. When bringing speakers, look at your organizational gaps – don’t forget to consider women of color, women with disabilities, and other marginalized identities. The goal is to plan programs that reflect the diverse array of women in your organization and the community.