How can you make a real difference this Women's Equality Day?
It's been over 100 years (123 years, if we want to be exact) since women in the U.S. finally won the right to vote. Yet despite the strides women have made in the fight for gender equality, much work remains to be done.
This Women's Equality Day, we're celebrating the incredible progress that's been made and pausing to reflect on where we still have room to grow.
Ignite your team's passion for equality and create an inclusive workplace culture that everyone can be proud of. Dive in now and start making a difference!
When is Women's Equality Day 2023?
Women's Equality Day is celebrated every year on August 26th. This year, it falls on a Saturday, but that doesn't mean you can't celebrate it on the following Monday or any other day of the week!
A Brief History of Women's Equality Day
Women's Equality Day is a US-wide honoring and celebration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on August 26th, 1920, which states:
"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
This historic moment - made possible after a century of agitation, protest, and pressure, and finally drummed into law when passed by a majority of 36 states - saw, in effect, the full acknowledgment of women's right to vote for the first time in American history.
This is made all the more remarkable considering the path to full vote recognition for women. What began in 1848 with the Seneca Falls Convention - The United States' first-ever women's rights convention - culminated in the signing of the Declaration of Sentiments by 100 people.
Skip forward 30 years, and the fight for women's rights continues. The first reading of what would eventually become the 19th Amendment was put before Congress in 1878 but was rejected.
However, cracks were still there. Thanks to the country-wide and localized organizing efforts of leading women's rights advocates such as Lucy Burns and Alice Paul, the law was passed.
But once one domino fell, another rose in its place. Even after the 19th Amendment passed, there were depressing caveats. The new law did not provide complete voting rights to African American, Asian American, Hispanic-American, and Native-American women. In fact, it wasn't until the passing of The Voting Rights Act of 1965 that all women regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity, were given the right to vote.
To that end, Women's Equality Day now represents an ongoing battle against more contemporary but no less impactful efforts to disenfranchise women.
It stands proudly alongside other year-round DEI initiatives to improve diversity and inclusion for other marginalized groups across the DEI spectrum, including improving trans visibility and enfranchising minority religious groups to explore their faith in safety.
Explore our groundbreaking DEI programming and unlock the potential of your organization. Take the first step towards fostering a more inclusive and empowered workplace.
Why Celebrating Women's Equality Day at Work is Important
Even in 2023, over a hundred years after the passing of the 19th Amendment, there is still gender bias and pervasive, sexist cultures at play in work and wider society.
We are not free of challenges to hard-won freedoms. From the ever present Gender Pay Gap to increased reports of sexual harassment and sexism at work, not to mention efforts to push women's rights back decades with the overturning of the Roe Vs. Wade case law and the vitriolic culture war against acceptance of Trans people - this year's Women's Equality Day marks a call to everyone to take a stand on advancing equality and opportunity for all women.
Our organizations sit at a unique juncture between demographics, genders, communities, and cultures. That's why we have the incredible opportunity to recognize Women's Equality Day in a way that helps elevate those, historically, who haven't had a voice, or those female employees whose voice is much less widely represented.
5 Ways to Celebrate Women's Equality Day
Of course, the best way to celebrate Women's Equality Day is to take action! Commit to resources, activities, values, and efforts to improve opportunities for women and create lasting support systems with room for them to thrive.
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Support your staff by providing connections to support groups and professional empowerment groups in their sector or niche.
By opening your professional doors to equality-minded, protected professional bodies, you allow your female employees to develop relationships with like-minded peers and women leaders in your field.
Consider sectors like Finance where women are still a large minority in boardrooms and on staff. In 2023, numerous professional networks exist explicitly to help support and celebrate Women, such as the Financial Women's Association, Women's Bond Club, and 100 Women In Finance.
By giving employees the chance to join professional networks and celebrate the work done by women in your sector, you're doing the necessary work of raising awareness and allowing team members to engage in professional communities that make a difference.
- DEIB Metrics: One of the most effective ways to ensure that gender equality is celebrated and amplified within the workplace is by understanding your DEIB Metrics. And by that, we mean taking an honest audit of your staff, understanding gender parity and pay parity throughout the organization. By having this level of knowledge, you can make informed decisions on where to focus DEIB initiatives and create internal policies that can help celebrate diversity and challenge any inequality or gender discrimination practices that may be in place.
- Promote Women-first Mentorship Program: For Women's Equality Day, why not consider creating a "Women-First" mentoring program? This can be anything from an internal one-on-one/group mentorship scheme to allow female employees to engage with more senior women leaders in their field and areas of interest. As anyone who has benefited from a mentor knows, mentoring goes beyond professional support or networking opportunities - it can profoundly impact self-expression, confidence, career growth, and L&D pathways, and is a real-world, tangible positive for women employees.
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Internal advocacy can also be well represented in allowing Employee Resource Groups to flourish - "ERGs give employees a voice, increase team-wide cultural competence, boost employee engagement, and enrich individual perspectives" - which are vital for awareness-raising and impacting broader cross-organizational cultural change. So consider setting up ERGs in your organization, and ensure the right policies, standards, and processes are in place to support them.
Next Generation Pathways
An effective and very tangible way to impact opportunities for women in the workplace is by offering internships to young women and girls straight out of mandated education, especially in sectors where women are underrepresented, like in Tech, Finance, and Logistics.
This not only shows a willingness to commit resources to help young women into work, but it also shows a focus on improving diversity in your sector from the ground up, supporting career pathways, and encouraging young professionals to learn and develop in work.
Community (and Worker) Empowerment
It's not enough to create DEIB policies and initiatives behind closed doors. For Women's Equality Day, why not consider empowering your staff to take part in external organizations or outreach events that help promote the rights of Women?
Whether that's helping fund scholarships for Women's education in local communities or supporting nonprofit international refugee charities to help empower women across the globe. These are meaningful ways to show your employees that you care about and are committed to the empowerment of women more broadly.
But it goes without saying that your people are your community, and empowering them empowers all of us.
Celebrate your people through rewards, recognition, and honest dialogue about their experiences. Consider hosting internal events that showcase the achievements of women in your organization, from team and individual awards to gender-focused 'ted talk' style seminars with external experts from women-owned businesses, inspiring women in your organization to share their stories.
Commitment to Change
At the end of the day, a commitment to celebrate international women's day means a commitment to change. And this can be most acutely demonstrated by Gender Pay Gap reporting for equal pay.
According to Pew Research, the Gender Pay Gap persists, even with wide press coverage and a commitment to reporting across many of the world's largest companies. This can be down to a few things, but none more demoralizing than the fact many companies simply aren't reporting their Gender Pay disparities.
However, every baby step forward is a commitment to change - so take a look at your people data, get honest with yourself and commit to real, measurable changes. whether that's hiring more women of color in leadership positions or creating incentives for women to stay in higher-paying roles - this is the kind of stuff that makes a difference.
Women's Equality Day isn't just about celebrating progress; it's about committing to change and allowing those changes to be seen through your data. Celebrate the work of your teams, consider internal advocacy initiatives, open professional networking opportunities, and commit to real-world pay gap reporting for a commitment to tangible change that can make a real difference in the equal rights of your women employees.
Ready to start your commitment to change? Book a demo with Cooleaf, the all-in-one experience platform, to learn more about how we can help recognize, reward, and empower your teams this Women's Equality Day.
Let's work together to create an experience that celebrates all employees, encourages collaboration, and drives lasting change.