In this blog HR Director, Jill Michael talks about the ways in which businesses acknowledge tomorrow’s International Women’s Day. Jill says as much as it is important to celebrate female talent across our industries, it is even more important that we also engage in actions that enact real change.
We all hear the words equity, equality, diversity and inclusion every day. We see written acclamations of it in job advertisements, culture blurbs and websites, but do we really know what it means, and do we see it lived out in the businesses we work in?
Equality, by basic definition, means each individual or group of people are given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and therefore in acknowledgement allocates the specific resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
The theme of International Women’s Day 2023 is equity, and this year I hope we see more than a celebration of the female talent we have, but a movement to meaningfully bring about change.
The recognition that our talent can be unique with different circumstances is why equity is a vital concept for businesses to address if they wish to put their diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy into practice. Not only that, but it is vital to getting the best out of a team and tap into a wider and more diverse group of talented individuals.
To drive towards greater equity requires more innovation, more consideration, and more action to ensure it exists, rather than as a footnote in a company’s strategy or on their website.
In my 20 years in human resources, I have worked across a variety of sectors and industries. I chose HR from a desire to engage with all individuals at all levels in business. It is a career that has its challenges, and at times you are leading difficult agendas, but you also have the ability to positively influence a culture and drive meaningful change. This opportunity, however, should not be unique to HR teams alone.
As businesses consider how they will acknowledge this International Women’s Day and those it impacts, let’s drive the equity agenda forward. It’s okay to have the celebrations, and celebrating the amazing female talent that we have across our industries is important, but let’s ensure we also engage in actions that enact real change.
Getting round the table to constructively challenge and collaborate to ensure those carefully crafted strategies and agendas prioritise equity is an important first step. Start with your people, develop an understanding with your leadership teams and colleagues on what equity is, and provide examples of how they could encourage this through the influence their daily role gives them.
Continue to do that regularly, because annually is not going to work, and build a positive company culture where inquisitiveness and respectfully calling out behaviours that go against the drive for equity is encouraged. Importantly, share what you are doing and map your progress.
The equity challenges will be different in each organisation and industry, but in order to live out your commitments, you need to identify and address them. Then you really will have something to celebrate this International Women’s Day.