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This International Women’s Day, I’m reflecting on some of the most important things organizations can do to invest in women and accelerate progress toward gender equality.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8th each year to encourage people around the world to transform challenges into opportunities and recognize women for their achievements. And every employer has a part to play, whether by creating greater gender diversity in the C-Suite, closing any gender pay gaps, supporting the elimination of gender-based violence or addressing the financial deficit in spending on gender-equality measures.

Celebrate International Women's Day at your organization!

Invest in Women: Accelerate progress

The official UN theme for IWD 2024 is “Invest in women: Accelerate progress.” Investing in women and accelerating progress toward gender equality benefits society as a whole. But as things currently stand, more than 340 million women and girls will still live in extreme poverty by 2030. Deep-seated biases persist both in and out of the workplace and men are 2.5x more likely than women to be executives in top leadership teams. 

There’s clearly still a lot of work to be done.

Facing such a huge challenge can feel overwhelming, but we mustn’t let this overwhelm lead to inactivity. Which is why I’ve rounded up some of the most important things that organizations can do to invest in women.

Advocate for more women in leadership roles

Advocate for more women in leadership roles in your organization.The term ‘The Drop to the Top’ refers to the declining number of women in senior leadership or C-Suite positions. Despite multiple studies demonstrating how gender diversity in executive leadership is good for business, less than a third of global leadership positions were held by women in 2023.

There are many things that employers can take to advocate for more women in leadership roles. 

Firstly, increasing visibility of women in leadership positions within the organization is a great way to inspire others to progress. Seeing is believing, and it’s important to put female role models in the spotlight. 

Secondly, providing women with access to opportunities for growth and development is key. It’s all well and good if an employee believes they have the potential to join the leadership team, but it’s going to be much harder for them to progress without the right training or support. Think about providing L&D programs, speaker series and goal-setting guidance for women.

Finally, organizations that offer executive mentorship programs enable women to progress to more senior positions and build confidence. Mentoring benefits both the mentor and the mentee, and is a fantastic way to provide tailored support and coaching.  

Make your benefits gender-inclusive

Another way to accelerate progress toward gender equality is by providing benefits and supports that help women thrive in the workplace.

Gender-inclusive benefits better support all of your employees, regardless of what their home life looks like.By ‘gender-inclusive benefits’, I mean removing gender stereotypes when it comes to your benefits package. For example, at Reward Gateway, we made our parental leave benefit gender-neutral and more flexible. We previously offered 12 months’ paid maternity leave to mothers, but we now offer an enhanced parental leave policy that offers the primary caregiver – the parent who will provide the majority of the childcare, regardless of gender – 6 months’ paid leave at full salary and an additional monthly stipend until the child’s 2nd birthday. We also provide the secondary caregiver with 4 weeks of paid leave, which they can take at any time during the child’s first year.

Research highlights a persistent gap between men and women when it comes to financial security. On average, women have significantly lower pension savings than men and are far less likely to invest. So including financial wellbeing support and education in your benefits package can positively impact the financial security of all employees, helping to close the gap between men and women. 

Another great example of a gender-inclusive benefit is holiday trading. By allowing eligible employees to trade in holiday allowance for cash or exchange cash for extra days of holiday, you give people more control over their schedules – something particularly valuable for working parents. 

Put your money where your mouth is

Work diligently to close gender pay gaps in your organization to ensure equity and fairness across your workforce.A powerful way to demonstrate your commitment to investing in women is to, of course, invest in women

Perhaps the most obvious way to invest in women is by making a conscious and considered effort to close any gender pay gap within your organization. The gender pay gap is reported to have barely closed over the past 2 decades in the United States, with women in the U.S. earning an average of 82 cents to every dollar earned by men in the U.S.  

Another way is to make a donation to a charity supporting women, many of which are doing incredible work to remove gender inequality. Here are some of our suggestions: 

  • UN Women: The United Nations organization is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
  • AnitaB.org: This organization’s aim is to recruit, retain, and advance women in technology.
  • EqualityNow.org: Equality Now works to create a just world for women and girls, utilizing its international network of lawyers, activists and supporters to call out inequality.

One more way to literally invest in women is by financially supporting a women-owned business. It’s estimated that small- and medium-sized businesses that are owned by women globally are underfunded by $1.7 trillion. Perhaps you could consider the ways you can engage your workforce in the initiative, by providing business mentoring or skills sharing. 

I hope this blog post has left you feeling inspired by some of the ways you can support women both inside and outside of your organization. Happy International Women’s Day!

Caitlin Kirwan

Caitlin Kirwan is a self-confessed employee engagement and internal communications nerd. After a decade of managing internal comms and engagement programs for different companies around the world, Caitlin now shares her experiences to help leaders connect and engage their teams. When not writing, she can usually be found running, hiking or queuing for an oat latte!


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