Will your firm encourage gender equality after March?

As women’s history month winds down in the US, UK, Australia and elsewhere around the world, it’s a good time to reflect on the diversity efforts in your organization. Many companies will take advantage of the broader, even popular, recognition of the month to put in place activities, events, presentations and communications to highlight the accomplishments of women in their organization. Many take it a step further and host programs for girls, encouraging the next generation to dream as big as they wish and find early professional support.

But if your firm is among the many who focus on efforts to reinforce equality for women more during the month of March than throughout the entire year, now is a good time to pause and reflect:

  • What were you trying to achieve in your organization by recognizing women’s history month, and perhaps specifically the widely celebrated International Women’s Day (March 8)?
  • Did you put in place any new mechanisms to ensure a commitment to driving gender equality at all times?
  • What must your organization still address to reach true parity?

All of the above require an honest, inward look at your organization as a whole and the behaviors of every individual – men and women alike. Consider the following:

  • Are your ranks truly diverse?
  • Even if your company’s total numbers seem balanced in terms of gender, are roles for women diverse within each group, department or business in your overall organization? Or do you find that there are parts of the firm that are less diverse?
  • If you are a multi-location or a global firm, are your diversity policies in practice consistently across all locations?
  • Are average salaries for women in line with average salaries for men in similar positions (“equal pay for equal work”)?
  • Are women as equally considered for positions as the men are, both in your external hiring as well as internal promotions?
  • Does everyone in the organization – from the top to entry-level – feel that they can speak up if they see an inequality issue?

If you cannot answer a solid “Yes” to all of the above, then your firm still might have some work to do. And of course, the same can apply for other diversity levers, be it race, culture, creed, sexual orientation and age.

There are many benefits of diversity, and having an array of opinions, perspectives and skills is very valuable to any company and its brand. This is particularly important in this era of constant, rapid change. Those who will best succeed are those who can be nimble and generate new ideas to consistently compete and move their organizations forward.

We can only hope that one day we won’t need dedicated efforts or special months and holidays to promote diversity. Rather, the goal is that diversity becomes an inherent part of every company’s culture. Ultimately, it all comes down to respect. If every worker could earn respect for their unique ideas, accomplishments and goals because of who they are and what they can contribute to the business, not because they may (or may not) be wearing a skirt, then we could put our collective energy towards achieving great things together.

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