Do more or do nothing this International Women’s Day
If you intend to share an International Women’s Day post, ask yourself how will you help bridge the gap this coming year?
Despite years of raising the issue of equality, global gender gaps remain. Data published by the World Economic Forum in 2021 showed that global gender gaps remain in education, health, economics and politics. (1)
- We still have a lack of female leaders in the world that impact on the real speed of change.
- Women are still more likely to die from a heart attack. (2)
- Women in business face significant barriers to funding, with research suggesting they are subject to indirect discrimination when applying for loans and access to credit. (3)
For years I was uncomfortable with the title of feminist until I sat on think tanks for the government, worked with NatWest after The Rose Review and worked with various other organisations like WEConnect and discovered the very real ways that inequality impacts on individuals, teams, organisations, productivity, profitability and communities.
The theme this year is unconscious bias.
I recently confidentially posted a picture of my very grey hair (4) (I’ve gone grey in 2 months – probably the traumatic stress making an escape after my husband being very seriously ill for 18 months) and was intrigued by people’s responses. I like the person I am whatever colour my hair, but I’ve done enough research on unconscious bias and success to know that women can be perceived differently to a man with grey hair.
One study on gender ageism and grey hair concluded “older women are alert to age-stereotyping and discrimination and the hazard of invisibility, social devaluation, and irrelevance”.
Unconscious bias exists and we can all play a part in removing it.
Did you know even the pandemic has impacted on women globally more than men?
According to the Harvard Law School forum on Corporate Governance (5) when asked they question “is the world making reasonable progress towards increasing the proportion of women on boards? The data indicates not. Women occupy just 20% of board seats globally and continue to be excluded from the highest levels of corporate leadership.”
I sat on a think tank for the government on this issue over 10 years ago. We aren’t learning. Here are 7 quick ideas that you can actively do for yourself and others to help remove unconscious bias and speed up real change this International Women’s Day, because it is good for all people and organisations.
1, We need to appreciate it’s benefits for all people – financial, risk management, communication, growth, happiness, performance, etc.
2. We need to drop the assumptions. When it comes to empowering women there are many assumptions made. And we shy away from difficult or uncomfortable conversations. Helping people create non-judgemental environments to say anything is key and I teach people how.
On a think tank for the government we were there for a whole day. Some very clever people had been paid £100,000 to create this report we were reviewing and discussing. It got to 4pm and I said “Are we not going to discuss that women have wombs?
Because if women can’t discuss the fact that women have wombs how are business leaders and governments supposed to?” The editor for the Financial Times congratulated me afterwards for pointing out the glaringly obvious and it forced us to address the fact that to empower women we must honour ourselves before we expect anyone else to.
3. Importance list. Women are the worlds natural healers, carer and compassionate souls. We want others to be happy and we do our best to nurture and care, this means we often put ourselves lower down the importance list. I teach people how to acknowledge where they put themselves and how to rise up to be as important as everyone else in their lives and the benefits there of. It’s not about you over me, its about you and me.
4. Communication. The language we use on ourselves, and others use is critically important. Learning how the way you communicate impacts on empowering is very important, then how you create the boundaries around that communication empowers women to great things in every aspect of their life. Remember this is not just about equality, it benefits every aspect of life.
5. Power – no one can take your power – unless you let them. I’ve coached thousands on how to be motivated, empowered and achieve anything regardless of what diversity or obstacles they face. You may not be able to remove yourself from a situation physically, but you can do plenty to protect your mind, and that will lead you to great things – regardless. When it comes to equality understanding how we use this on ourselves and others can have a massive positive impact on teams and organisations.
6. Be careful what you share – Every “fact” I share I appreciate another research paper or report will come along and add or change the story or research. I work hard to ensure that what I share is checked and doubled checked. I often see people share inaccurate half truths both online and in meetings. If we want true equality for all we need to ensure we are wise on what we share and why.
7. Confidence. Build confidence – research says a man is more likely to exaggerate how amazing he is and a woman is more likely to dismiss her skills, traits and abilities. According to The Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurs, only 39% of women are confident in their capabilities to start a business compared to 55% of men. I first hand see the damage that a lack of confidence does to an individual, the team and a business and it’s not going to take years to remedy. Remember Internal confidence is very different to external confidence and I teach something called the 4 step voice changer and the “Why I’m awesome” Document. 2 strategies that help women build confidence very fast.
These are just a few ideas to work on for yourself and those that you work with. Together we can do more than lip service. So, this International Women’s Day, do more. Or don’t post at all.