Beyond IWD: Sustaining Women’s Empowerment at Work

International Women’s Day (IWD), observed globally on March 8th, is a powerful reminder of the strides we’ve made towards gender equality and the journey that still lies ahead. It offers a unique opportunity for reflection, celebration, and most importantlyaction. Having worked with numerous organisations over a large range of industries, we recognize how vital it is for workplaces to actively create an inclusive and equitable work environment that not only celebrates but actively supports women’s achievements and challenges gender biases. 

IWD is not just about celebration; it’s also call to action for accelerating gender parity and addressing the structural barriers that impede women’s career advancement and participation in the workplace. Within the professional world, acknowledging this day can help highlight issues such as gender pay gaps, unequal representation in leadership roles, and the need for policies that support work-life balance. 

In recent conversations surrounding IWD, there has been a significant call to shift focus from performative actions towards meaningful, impactful change. As awareness grows, so does the understanding that simply recognising IWD is not enough to foster true gender equality. There’s a broader recognition that the path to gender equality requires sustained and strategic efforts rather than symbolic acknowledgments. Stakeholders, including businesses, organisations, and individuals, must go beyond token gestures or one-off events and place more effort and emphasis on embedding gender equality into the core values and operations of organisations. This could include implementing equitable hiring practices, promoting women to leadership positions, conducting pay equity audits, and creating supportive workplace cultures that empower women every day of the year. 

We’d like to take a moment this year on IWD to highlight the necessity of actions that have a tangible effect on breaking down the systemic barriers that women face. It’s about a collective commitment to not just celebrating women’s achievements but actively paving the way for an inclusive and equitable future. 

Showing genuine support for gender equality requires a commitment to long-term strategies and actions. Here are some suggestions to get you thinking: 

  • Conduct a Gender Pay Audit: Transparently assess and address any disparities in pay that affect women in your organisation. This not only signals a commitment to fairness but also promotes trust among employees. 
  • Implement Mentorship Programs: Encourage the growth and development of women in your workplace through mentorship programs. Pairing emerging talent with experienced leaders can provide them with the guidance, confidence, and network they need to advance. 
  • Foster an Inclusive Culture: Create a workplace where everyone feels valued and included. This involves training on unconscious bias, promoting diversity in teams, and ensuring that all voices are heard and considered in decision-making processes. 
  • Support Work-Life Balance: Implement policies that recognise the diverse responsibilities employees may have outside of work, such as flexible working hours, remote work options, and parental leave. These policies benefit all employees but can be particularly impactful for women. 
  • Celebrate Women’s Achievements: Use IWD as a launching pad to regularly celebrate women’s achievements throughout the year. Highlighting the successes and contributions of women in your organisation can inspire others and demonstrate your firm’s commitment to gender equality. 

Resources and Further Reading

To deepen your understanding and commitment to gender equality in the workplace, here’s some excellent resources to get you thinking:  

UN Women: offers comprehensive insights and data on gender equality and women’s rights globally. 

Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA): is a Government agency committed to promoting and improving gender equality in Australian workplaces. They provide a wealth of data, resources, and best practices for employers looking to advance gender equality within their organisations. 

Diversity Council Australia (DCA): is the independent not-for-profit peak body leading diversity and inclusion in the workplace. DCA offers research, practices, and solutions for achieving diversity and inclusion, with a focus on gender equality among other dimensions of diversity. 

Chief Executive Women (CEW): is an organisation representing over 500 of Australia’s most senior women leaders. Their mission is to enable more women leaders. CEW offers scholarships, leadership programs, and advocacy on issues affecting women in the workplace. 

Champions of Change Coalition: is a globally recognised, innovative strategy for achieving gender equality, advancing more and diverse women in leadership, and building respectful and inclusive workplaces. In the strategy, men of power and influence step up beside women leaders. They form a high-profile Coalition to lead and be accountable for change on gender equality issues in their organisations and communities – be they local, national or global.

Fair Work: provides information and advice about workplace rights and rules, including topics related to gender equality, discrimination, and flexible work arrangements. 

International Women’s Day serves as a reminder of the progress we have made towards gender equality and the work that remains. As business leaders, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our workplaces not only celebrate this day but also embody its principles every day. By taking concrete actions to support and empower women, we can move closer to a world where gender equality is not just an ideal but a reality. 

In celebrating IWD this year, let’s commit to genuine, impactful change that goes beyond a single day’s celebration, fostering an environment where everyone, regardless of gender, has the opportunity to succeed. 


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