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Morning teams, cookies and cupcakes, but it’s time to Count Her In.

ASPL Group blog
Every year International Women’s Day rolls around, bringing with it ideas of celebration like cupcakes, luncheons, and networking events. However, it's time to question the impact of such festivities on the pressing issue of gender equality.

Every year International Women’s Day rolls around, bringing with it ideas of celebration like cupcakes, luncheons, and networking events. However, it’s time to question the impact of such festivities on the pressing issue of gender equality. What can we truly learn and contribute when our efforts are confined to sharing a cup of tea and cake and uttering a perfunctory “good job”?

While the allure of cupcakes and friendly gestures might seem like a celebration of women’s achievements, delving into the purpose of International Women’s Day reveals that a mere morning tea falls short. Now more than ever there is a need for a more profound and sustained commitment to gender equality, moving beyond tokenistic gestures that relegate this critical issue to a single day of attention.

When unveiling the misconception surrounding International Women’s Day, it’s essential to dispel the notion that it’s just a female-centric event. Some individuals may sarcastically ask, “When is International Men’s Day?” – well, it exists on November 19th. However, what’s more astonishing is the corporate world’s tendency to overlook International Women’s Day and its true purpose.

Contrary to common misperceptions, International Women’s Day is not an occasion to scramble and put together superficial panels or ESG initiatives. It’s not an excuse for recruiting unpaid speakers for a morning tea or a networking luncheon where women compare notes on their individual experiences of inequality and return to the office by mid-afternoon.

Instead, it offers an opportunity for deep reflection and strategic planning. It calls for an examination of life, job, community, and global stances, challenging us to identify areas for improvement in gender equality. The effectiveness of International Women’s Day initiatives varies widely and is often influenced by the values of leadership within organisations.

Inclusive leadership starts at the top. Leaders who champion diversity and gender equality set the tone for the entire workforce by fostering a workplace culture that values and celebrates differences, creating an environment where everyone feels heard, respected, and included. The commitment to equality must permeate through every facet of organizational functioning, from recruitment practices to workplace conditions and flexibility, promotions and decision-making processes.

One major part of that is the work to dismantle unconscious bias. Leaders need to be proactive in identifying and rectifying biases that may hinder the advancement of women in the workplace. This involves implementing unbiased recruitment processes, providing equal opportunities for skill development, and ensuring fair and transparent evaluations.

In tandem with addressing unconscious biases, inclusive leadership embraces the implementation of flexible work policies as a cornerstone for cultivating an equitable workplace. Initiatives such as remote work options, flexible hours, and parental leave contribute significantly to creating an environment that values the diverse life experiences and responsibilities of employees.

But it needs to be clear that this commitment goes beyond benefiting women, extending to all individuals within the organisation. These policies not only champion inclusivity but also foster a sense of work-life balance, reinforcing the idea that every employee, regardless of gender, is integral to the organisation’s success. Together, the dismantling of biases and the implementation of flexible policies form a cohesive strategy for building a workplace where diversity is celebrated, potential is unlocked, and everyone is empowered to thrive.

As we approach International Women’s Day, let’s move beyond the superficial celebrations of cupcakes and embrace the true essence of the occasion. It’s time to Count Her In and commit to meaningful actions that address gender disparities at their roots. Only by collectively reflecting, strategising, and actively pursuing change can we make a lasting impact on the journey toward gender equality.

 

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