On 8th March 2023, the International Women’s Day campaign is asking women to post photos of them hugging themselves to “embrace equity”. However, diversity and inclusion consultancy, Watch This Sp_ce, say this has squeezed the life out of the campaign, and it’s time to reconsider the value of such awareness days.
Co-Creator of Watch This Sp_ce Allegra Chapman, explains:
International Women’s Day, just like Pride and so many other awareness days, began as a protest movement. Now, we’re seeing brands use days like this as a marketing opportunity, often papering over inequalities within their workplaces with an empty blog post, or hiding behind a pink or rainbow-coloured logo. It’s meaningless, it devalues the whole concept, and it can do more harm than good if their staff and customers recognise it as simply a marketing stunt.
Allegra Chapman, Co-Creator of Watch This Sp_ce
Gestures like asking women to hug themselves, the Watch This Sp_ce team warn, are not only lacking in impact, but they risk undermining what International Women’s Day stands for. With these sorts of days now little more than a date in a social media manager’s calendar, Watch This Sp_ce advises that it might be time to move away from awareness days altogether and make a commitment to standing up for women’s rights – and LGBTQ+ rights, and the rights of Black and minority ethnic people, and the rights of people with disabilities, and the rights of all underrepresented and marginalised people – all year round.
Allegra Chapman continues;
We’d like to see organisations making a meaningful commitment to change. We know that 62% of people want to work for an organisation that shares their values, and consumers are four times more likely to buy from a brand with purpose. So, by taking a stand and demonstrating genuine action, organisations will do more for their reputation than any Photoshopped logo would achieve.
Watch This Sp_ce recommends the following actions to support women in the workplace:
1. Publish and review your pay gap data
Identify where the gaps occurring and why, so that you can take meaningful steps towards tackling them. Being open and transparent about this data, even if you’re not legally required to be, sends a powerful message to your staff and customers that you are genuinely committed to progress in this area and recognise the issues.
2. Ensure your policies are flexible, inclusive and family-friendly
Creating policies that work around the lives of women and support them through life transitions not only creates a more engaged and motivated team, but increases staff retention meaning that you don’t lose valuable knowledge and experience.
3. Include women in your decision-making
From the iPhone that was too big for women’s hands to the lack of childcare provision during the pandemic that dramatically hampered production of many businesses, not having women (or members of any underrepresented group) involved in decision-making can have disastrous consequences. If your decision-making teams are lacking in women, take a look at why and figure out how you can bring women into the room. From mentoring schemes to looking at your promotions processes to expanding the range of inputs you ask for, diverse teams are 84% better at making decisions, so your efforts will be well rewarded.
Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.