Women’s History Month content floods LinkedIn timelines and internal company programs every March. Companies far and wide pump out obligatory words of support and empowerment for women and commemorate women in history for their contributions. After 31 days, things are put away until the following year. This annual exercise is just a performance if it’s not connected to a plan for making a meaningful impact in closing gender inequity. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate every opportunity to celebrate, honor, and empower women. And I’m glad it’s expanded from a weeklong commemoration to a month-long celebration. My concern is the disconnected and concentrated engagement of the marketing team and women’s employee resource groups during this month.
Companies need to programmatically address gender issues in a robust DEI strategy centered on equity, impact, and longevity.
Focus on Equity
Marketing shouldn’t be the only department that puts women at the forefront. For instance, the pay gap still persists between men and women. In 2021, women earned only 84% of what their male counterparts earned. To empower women in ways that go deeper than the surface, consider how you can increase gender equity in your organization. If you have not already, conduct a pay and promotion assessment to see where gender inequity exists for your company. If you’ve conducted these assessments before, revisit them and ensure that you do periodic reviews, as the powerful and invisible force of inequity tends to re-emerge in institutions over time.
Impact over Intention
Companies often have great intentions for their employees, but when it comes to DEI, the outcomes are what matter. You can see outcomes most clearly through data and lived experience, so to understand whether your DEI plans are having the desired impact on women, look at your data and see if you are truly making progress in increasing the representation of women in the company and leadership. Analyze company data for increased equity and inclusion. Listen to women describe their employee experience at your company and on their teams. Are you hearing women talk about having imposter syndrome? A recent article discusses imposter syndrome as more a product of the company environment than women, so it can signal that the company culture needs improvement. The support and empowerment that we pledge for women in the company should be evident in the data and experiences of your women employees.
Do it All Year ‘Round
With once-a-year attention to gender equity, you won’t get more diversity, equity, or inclusion. With a strategy that provides a comprehensive and ongoing approach to improve the career trajectory and experiences of women in your workplace, you’ll see improvements over time. These improvements will lend themselves to a more organic and authentic approach to Women’s History Month messages internally and externally because you’ll be able to demonstrate data-driven improvements based on the plans the company has implemented.