As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, I can’t help but think of something my brilliant and very psychologically savvy 84-year-old Dad asked me recently regarding equality, “But aren’t we making progress?” At first, my immediate response was to raise my voice and yell at the top of my lungs, ‘Sort of, but we need to move faster and do better!’ But I paused and said, “Yes, Dad, I do believe we are making progress, and I have to believe that to get up every morning filled with joy and hope.”
A few things to note. I am honored and beyond grateful to be having these conversations with my 84-year-old Dad. And we’ve both seen tremendous progress in our lifetimes. As his gay daughter, I for one, live out and proud and work in a women-owned agency. But this progress doesn’t change the fact that I want to move faster, and I want to do better.
International Women’s Day was started more than 110 years ago, and this is where we are today:
And the gap does not just incorporate gender as a factor but also race, ethnicity, disability, access to education, and age. As a result, there is even more disparity amongst these various groups of women.
I am fortunate to work at a women-owned, employee-owned, and purpose-driven marketing agency, and I could not be prouder. But guess what, we as an agency still have some work to do. We are aware that we need to do more around diversity, equity, and inclusion. And it was not until 2021 that DEI landed on our annual strategic plan to ensure we never lose sight of the importance of it. We have incredible employee-owners that push us every single day to rise and do better. We are learning and unlearning and leaning into understanding microaggressions and biases. We ourselves are a work in progress and we understand that progress takes true dedication.
Not only do we think taking these steps is the right thing to do, but it is also proven to be a revenue driver. A recent Harvard study discovered that diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth. Studies show that female-led teams demonstrate better cohesion, cooperative learning, and participative communication. There are also multiple indications that women, compared with men, enact their leader roles with a view to producing outcomes that can be described as more compassionate, benevolent, universalistic, and ethical, thus promoting the public good. And lastly, according to a 12-year study from a Boston-based trading firm, women CEOs in the Fortune 1000 drove three times the returns as S&P 500 enterprises predominantly run by men.
For me to wake up with joy and hope, I cannot be content with where we are. Focusing on gender parity for a moment, the World Economic Forum says we will not see gender parity in our lifetimes, nor will many of our kids. International Women’s Day was established over a century ago, and it will take almost another to have gender parity. This means another century of uneven access to education, job segregation, lack of legal protections, poor medical care, racism, and societal mindsets on how we value one another.
So, Dad–I will continue to fight for change, but I will celebrate our progress. Just know that our reality is that true gender equality is still unfortunately far off in the future. And so, with enthusiasm, passion, and purpose, we invite everyone to join us in celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women worldwide.
Here are a few things you can do today to #ChooseToChallenge and push us forward: