11 March, 2019
Beyond leading the charge for women’s voting rights in the early 20th century, the Suffragettes introduced International Women's Day. These trailblazing women launched a movement that has spanned over a hundred years while honoring the social, economic and political advancements of women around the world.
Fundamental values such as “justice, dignity, equality and respect” (to name only a few) inform the theme each year and serve as an inspiration to all those who choose to participate. This year’s theme “of #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world.” And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
According to the World Economic Forum, we are still 202 years away from closing the gender pay gap globally. Meanwhile, women are continuing to make historic strides day after day, but there’s still much more to do. With the world’s workforce comprising of nearly half women, the only way we can improve conditions for all and create thriving economies is if we maximize the potential of all females in every sector, and do it with extreme urgency.
Working mothers are taking matters into their own hands, organizing and advocating internally within companies and demanding more family-friendly policies. And while the motherhood penalty is alive and well, working mothers are refusing to be penalized for procreating.
As I reflect on #BalanceforBetter, especially as it relates to working parents, and consider the time and distance we have remaining along the journey to equality; I turned to inspiring leaders in both the corporate and entrepreneurial spaces who offer their insight and innovation on #BalanceforBetter:
PwC is focused on giving both mothers and fathers flexibility over the course of their careers. Personally, I used the firm’s backup childcare when my daughter was young, took advantage of telecommuting when she was a teenager and spent my generous vacation benefits visiting her in Paris during her semester abroad. On International Women's Day, it's important to stress that we are committed to giving our men the same parental leave and flexibility benefits as our women, in order to promote equity at both work and home.
Companies thrive when they invest in people - parents or not. When you have a company that promotes a culture of empathy, people are more likely to do their best work...For parents, it’s supporting them at every stage: preparing for a baby, taking leave, and returning to work.
As a tech-enabled company, Beroe is committed to creating a new standard for work-life balance to support working parents—our 4-day work week and comprehensive maternity leave policies remove roadblocks to women’s workplace success and ensure that our female employees have the same opportunities as our male employees.
For me, #BalanceForBetter is about aiming for happy extremes, rather than more traditional balance. I’m wired to be an all-in kind of person. When I’m at work, I want to be intense and feel truly rewarded by the work I’m doing. Similarly, when I’m with my family, I want to be totally committed to them...The key to making this approach work is to be good at setting boundaries and sticking to them!
The one thing we could commit to doing better in 2019 is training managers on how to deal with working parents. If you’ve never had kids, or aren’t an involved parent, it can be difficult to understand the challenges working parents may face. For example, returning to work after maternity/paternity leave and having to adjust to how things have changed while you were out, fitting in pumping when your calendar is packed with meetings, having meetings scheduled for 6:00 pm when you have to pick up your kids - these are all real challenges that we can make managers more aware of.
In 2019, we will commit to looking for the best female candidates in more traditionally male roles such as engineering and finance. While our overall workforce is ~50/50, there is a lot of variation by department, and we think women have a lot to add to any function.
#BalanceforBetter is an important campaign that recognizes the need for business leadership and employees to reflect the diversity of the customers we serve. It means striving for more diverse perspectives as we build products and bring them to market, ultimately serving our customers more effectively through empathy and deeper understanding.