It’s been 365 days since my last International Women’s Day post and a lot has happened to change the nature of conversations around the holiday. Fueled by feelings of political oppression, and frankly a “fed-upness” of society and institutions not holding men accountable for their actions, 2018 was deemed “The Year of the Woman.” This designation was a culmination of moments such as the most women of diverse backgrounds being elected to the US House of Representatives, Arlan Hamilton the female CEO of Backstage Capital creating a 36 million dollar fund designated to invest in black female entrepreneurs and innovators, and the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service being awarded to New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey for their reporting on Harvey Weinstein’s abuse of women.
Naturally there are a slew of brands, agencies, and influencers ready to “celebrate” the holiday by showcasing women in the hopes of earning their highly coveted spending power and brand loyalty. But if we women truly want to move ourselves and conversations of equality forward, we must look beyond the well-crafted attempts at inclusion and see what these brands and agencies are doing to support women the other 364 days a year.
For example, today Walmart launched a campaign celebrating the “Women of Walmart” which boasts the promotion of over 150,000 women last year. The campaign does not however address a 2011 class-action lawsuit filed against the company for gender discrimination, which they eventually won in appeals, nor a new lawsuit filled February 1, 2019 accusing the company of abuse, discrimination, withholding raises and promotions from female employees. Additionally, The Drum reported today that “just eight of the 100 most award-winning chief creative officers in 2018 were female.” The same article also included data from a recent The Big Won study that noted “of last year’s 300 most-awarded chief creative officers, executive creative directors and creative directors, only 39 were women”—ouch.
As the cliché goes “a woman’s work is never done” and while we have and continue to make great strides in the long fight for equality we must continue to show up and force executives, colleagues, peers, and even our significant others to have the sometimes uncomfortable, and even forbidden conversations around topics that help move women forward. These conversations and topics are difficult and the fact that women in 2019 STILL are not afforded the same rights, privileges, and opportunities as their male peers, coworkers, and friends is a slow burn. Which is why it is more important than ever for women to support one another, and to hold men and institutions accountable when and where they fall short.
Therefore, to ‘celebrate’ International Women’s Day this year let’s use the facts below to help jumpstart some of those difficult to have conversations around taboo topics like pay gaps, maternity leave, and career advancement and move women forward.
- On average, women earn 82% of what men earn meaning it would take an extra 47 days of work for women to earn what men do.
- 40 percent of women don’t qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which grants 12 weeks of protected job leave, unpaid, at the federal level.
- Only 12 percent of women in the private sector have access to any sort of paid maternity leave, and 25 percent of women are forced to return to work within two weeks of giving birth to support their families.
- By mid-career, men are 70 percent more likely to be in executive roles than women. By late career, men are 142 percent more likely to be in VP or C-suite roles.
Again, these conversations are challenging but when we strive for a more just, caring, and thriving world good things happen. No, these changes will not be overnight or easy, but remember, who run the world? Girls!