The world will celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, 2021, by choosing to challenge for a more gender-equal world. Women have had the right to vote for 100 years, but according to the World Economic Forum, we will not achieve workplace parity for another 100 years. Waiting 100 years for fairness and an equal playing field is not an acceptable solution. Together, we can and should choose to challenge as we strive towards workplace parity.
According to Women in the US Workforce - Catalyst, women are superstars in college, earning more undergraduate and graduate degrees than men. Logically then, women should have greater success at work, but that isn’t the case. LeanIn.org and McKinsey studied when men start to pull ahead of women in the workplace. It happens because when you look at the top of the world’s largest and most powerful organizations, you find mostly men. What they found is troubling. Beginning with the very first promotion, more men than women advance. For every 100 men promoted for the first time, only 72 women are promoted. The gap is worse for Latinas and Black women. If women earn more degrees, then women should be winning a higher percentage of these early promotions, but the opposite is occurring.
I am choosing to challenge the status quo by raising awareness of the issues. I volunteered to write this blog article for the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island. Along with a friend, I started Parity Podcast to increase awareness of gender inequality and offer real solutions.
Five actions that we can all take as we choose to challenge are:
- Raise awareness. Even during a pandemic, we can continue to raise awareness through social media, professional organizations, and your friends and families. I started talking to my mom about gender inequality a few years ago. She was unaware of the challenges that women continue to face.
- Educate yourself. We don’t know what we don’t know, and there is always something new to learn. Take an online class, read a book, or listen to a podcast. There are so many free resources available for all of us to learn more about.
- Mentor someone. Mentoring programs increase workplace diversity, according to a HBR Study. You can do your part by offering to mentor someone even if your organization does not have a formal program.
- Participate in your organization’s D&I program. Many companies of all sizes have diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs that offer educational, development, and networking opportunities. If your organization does not have a D&I program, then start one. I started a D&I program at my work about five years ago, and it has been one of the most rewarding undertakings of my career.
- Assess your own unconscious bias. You can take a free online test to understand your own bias. The Harvard Implicit Bias Test measures individuals’ biases about gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and more. If you understand your own unconscious bias, you can challenge yourself as you make decisions to limit your bias from getting in the way of the right decision.
If we choose to challenge together, we can accelerate change for greater gender parity throughout the world. Individually and collectively, we can make a difference. How will you choose to challenge?
By: Cathy Nestrick (she/her)
Short Bio: Cathy (she/her) is the Vice President and General Counsel of a Fortune 500 Company where she founded her company’s diversity and inclusion initiative. She is also the Co-Host of Parity Podcast, which envisions a world with equal numbers of women and men at all levels of organizations. You can reach me at CathyandDeborah@par-ity.com.