Every year when International Women’s Day comes around, everyone starts shouting out women they admire or who inspire them. I love that! It’s always good to acknowledge those who help us, especially publicly. One thing that seems to get lost in the message, though, is the theme of the day.
Yes, International Women’s Day has a theme every single year! For 2019, the theme is #BalanceforBetter. It’s AWESOME to shout out women we love. It’s even better to take action towards setting up systems that encourage a more gender-balanced world to really help the women you love so much achieve their goals and reach their dreams.
What does it mean to #BalanceforBetter? From the official International Women’s Day team:
Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage …
Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.
How do we get there? What can we do to create a society where women are considered equal to me? We’ve been fighting this battle for a long time. Is there really any hope for change?
We can achieve #BalanceforBetter.
Absolutely, yes. We can’t just talk about it, though. We all ve to be committed to doing the uncomfortable, challenging, and sometimes thankless, work of centering women in business and in life. We’ve had enough conversations. Women are sufficiently inspired by quotes, empowering anthems, and perky tees with powerful sayings. We need allies who are ready to march alongside us as we demand equality for everyone.
I don’t know about your kids, but mine watch and emulate everything I do. Even though I’ve gone through periods of time where I would take what was offered to me, even if it was less, because I was tired or didn’t have the resources or support to advocate for myself, I don’t have that luxury anymore. If I accept less than, what I am teaching my daughter about the value of women’s work? About women’s time and energy? What lessons will my lessons will my son glean about the worth of girls and women? Being a mom makes us leaders, no matter how reluctant.
What can we do to support and uplift women?
Sometimes the reason folks don’t do the work is because they don’t know where to start. Here are 7 ideas to share with allies to support women, including some ways that women can uplift ourselves. Oh yes, we have to put in some uncomfortable labor to advance ourselves, too. It’s not enough to just let folks know what we need. We also have to be breaking the stigma around women asking for money, demanding to be respected, and supporting each other so that we all can win!
1. Pay women the same as men.
What women can do: Charge your worth. Don’t be afraid of negotiating. Speak up if you’re being underpaid.
2. Celebrate women’s achievements.
What women can do: Get out of the mindset that talking about your accomplishments is bragging. Let people know what you do well. We can’t expect for people to help us reach our goals if they don’t know where we are in the journey.
3. Respect women as leaders in your company or organization.
What women can do: Stop offering to take notes in every meeting, or planning the birthday parties. Step up to lead initiatives that will challenge and stretch you.
4. Listen to women and give them an opportunity to contribute.
What women can do: Speak up. Call out your colleagues when they mansplain or overtalk you.
5. Commit to diverse leadership, and decline a position if you know a women who would be better suited.
What women can do: Stop acquiescing to be polite. If you KNOW you’re the best fit, fight for your opportunity.
6. Use your privilege to advocate on behalf of women, even if they don’t ask you to.
What women can do: White women, use the privilege you have to ensure that once you get a seat, you bring women of color, trans women, differently abled women to the table, too.
7. Give women financial support.
What women can do: Ask for money. Besides a network, that’s pretty much all you need to build your business. When someone asks how they can help, ASK FOR MONEY.
That’s it. Seven easy steps to get us to the gender balanced world wonderland! I’m kidding. Obviously there’s much more to that we have to do, but this is definitely a good start.
There is one more thing—women, we have to support each other. We can’t get so caught up in the fight for gender equality that we forget that we’re in this together. There are times when we’re going to have to show each other tough love, and other times when we’re going to need to be gentle and sensitive towards each other. We have to be willing to call each other out, and accept criticism from other women who have our best interests in mind.
You know who benefits when women win? We all do. So help us help you help us!