International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8 to recognize the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. This day also serves as a call to action to accelerate gender equality and empower women and girls in all aspects of life.
The History of International Women’s Day
The history of International Women’s Day dates back to 1908 when 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City to demand better pay, shorter working hours, and the right to vote. The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Since then, it has become a global event with countries around the world celebrating it in their unique ways.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is “Embrace Equity.” The theme recognizes that businesses must prioritize inclusion and belonging because it is not enough to just provide equal opportunity as “people start from different places,” according to the International Women’s Day campaign.
To truly embrace equity, the IWD campaign suggests calling out discrimination, challenging gender stereotypes and identifying biases to seek inclusion.
Recognizing Women in the Workplace
To promote gender equality and a more inclusive work environment, there are many ways in which companies can recognize women at work.
Equal Pay: Women still face a gender pay gap in many industries (even in sports), which needs to be addressed. Companies can conduct regular pay audits to identify disparities and take corrective measures to close the gap.
Retaining and Developing Women Leaders: Promoting women into leadership roles helps create a more diverse and inclusive leadership team, leading to better decision-making and more innovative solutions. Companies can provide mentorship, training and development programs to support women’s career advancement.
Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, can help women balance their work and personal responsibilities. This can lead to higher employee retention and increased productivity. Companies can also offer paid parental leave to support women who are starting families.
Women in Sports
Another area where women are underrepresented is in sports. 2022 was a pivotal year for women’s sports, with the Women’s Sports Network’s debut of 24/7 streaming content and becoming the first network to ever focus on women athletes. But women still face an unlevel playing field when it comes to investment in women’s sports, what female athletes are paid, and diversity and fairness challenges.
One main area where women are still not treated the same as men in sports is pay. Professional female athletes are paid much less than male athletes and the pay gap increases each year. In the NBA, the average man makes $5.3 million a year while a WNBA player earns an average of $130,000 annually.
RELATED: Subscribe to DiversityInc Best Practices to read more about women in sports and Women’s History Month.
Celebrating Women Year-Round
It is great to acknowledge the achievements of women on International Women’s Day and during Women’s History Month, but women should also be recognized year-round.
One way this can be done is by highlighting the achievements of women at your company, whether during a monthly town hall meeting, a quarterly email or by sharing success stories in a company newsletter or on social media.