International Women’s Day #IWD2016

Today – March 8 – is International Women’s Day #IWD2016 – which most of you will know. But do you know its origins?

International Women’s Day was first observed in the early 1900’s at a time of great industrialisation and a booming population. Initially titled International Working Women’s Day, The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York.

It was organised by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.

Although the battle for gender equality has moved forward leaps and bounds since then – my own grandmother was never taught to read or write – it is undeniably true that women are still under-represented in both business and politics.

A recent study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics has shown that having women in the highest corporate roles is correlated with increased profitability. The study found that despite the apparent economic benefits, many companies are still lacking in gender diversity.

The question remains, how we can encourage women to become more proactive about their leadership journeys and take on those senior leadership roles?’. 

Causal factors attributed to this imbalance in our leadership populations, reveal that some women tend to be less likely to;

  • shout (or even just talk) about their own success
  • acquire a sponsor for their career or
  • rely on self-belief to ask for a promotion or pay rise (believing that it is the role of others to recognise their talents).

Does this sound familiar, either for yourself or your female colleagues?

We still need to do much more, talk about our successes, more appointments into key roles and activate the  contribution women add to mixed gender decision making – at all levels.

Still too many women find their confidence zapped the higher up the organisation they go. We ALL need to help, to create solutions to the very real challenges women face in the workplace. Our organisations in every sector need more inspired, energised and visionary women higher up in our organisations. Will you be one of them?

If, as the study shows, gender diversity leads to a more profitable organisation, then it’s the responsibility of every leadership team to explore and address the leadership challenges of the female population in your business.

Alongside our successful leadership development programmes for everyone, we also run a Women’s Leaders Programme to help give women in particular the skills and confidence to be better leaders. Sometimes the challenges women face are different to those of their male counterparts and participants have found the all-women workshops hugely beneficial.

On a recent workshop, one of our female participants said “I now start the conversations we ALL really need to be having – and stop colluding with the same old male-dominated ones.”

So, in the words of Ellie Goulding, what are you waiting for?

Got any thoughts on #IWD2016? Share them below. And if you’d like to know more about our Women’s Leaders Programme, please get in touch.