International Women’s Day: Why Gender Parity Should Be In Your Corporate Responsibility Agenda
“Be Bold For Change” is this year’s theme for International Women’s Day on March 8. Is your organisation bold enough to take action and be part of the change? There are many reasons why you should make gender parity part of your corporate responsibility agenda this International Women’s Day and beyond. International Women’s Day (IWD) was established over 100 years ago to honour the movement for women’s rights and build support for universal suffrage. Today, it is an opportunity for people and organisations across the world to celebrate women, unity, reflection, advocacy and action, and shine the spotlight on gender parity.
Highlighting the need for change is more important than ever. Because while we cannot overlook the accomplishments of women, neither can we ignore the fact that global progress towards gender parity is slowing down. The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to close the gap between genders. In 2015, a slowdown in the pace of progress meant the estimate was extended by 38 years to 2133.
Every organisation has a role to play in addressing this challenge and creating positive change in the workplace. After all, corporate responsibility is about more than sustainability and philanthropy; it’s about creating diverse and inclusive environments where everyone can thrive.
Why your organisation should be #BeBoldForChange
Closing the gender gap makes good business sense, but there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender parity in the workplace. Despite the focus on diversity in corporate responsibility, research by EY shows that many organisations are still not making real progress. One of the biggest challenges facing organisations is increasing the number of women in leadership; over 50% of business leaders say they need to do more to attract, retain and promote women to leadership positions and 25% say they expect no change to gender diversity in senior leadership the next five years.
The value of women in leadership is clear: in research by McKinsey & Company measuring “organisational excellence”, senior management teams with three or more women had higher scores on average than those with no women. Other research shows an organisation with 30% female leaders could add up to 6 percentage points to its net margin.
By creating change at the top, you can sew the seeds of gender equality throughout the rest of the organisation. Your leadership sets the tone for the company culture, creates role models and nurtures an environment that allows women to say, “If they can, I can”.
Take action this International Women’s Day
Making gender diversity a reality in the workplace needs to become a business priority, and International Women’s Day can provide the impetus your organisation needs to take action. This year’s IWD theme, #BeBoldForChange, is a call to action. Use the day to celebrate the achievements of women in your workplace, demonstrate your commitment to gender equality within your corporate responsibility plan and accelerate the conversation about how, and why, to close the gender gap.
At Staples, we are committed to doing our part to accelerate women’s progress in the workplace, not only on March 8 but every day. As part of our diversity corporate responsibility pillar, we will shortly be releasing our 2016-2018 Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan which outlines our goals and actions over the next two years. These range from increasing the number of women in leadership to establishing a mentoring program to enable women to reach their full potential.
We hope that you will join us and “Be Bold For Change”. This International Women’s Day, tell your employees, customers and the world how your organisation is committed to achieving gender parity. Make a pledge and spread your message using the campaign’s official hashtag on social media, #BeBoldForChange.
Be inspired by the pledges of Staples’ Executive Leadership Team:
Darren Fullerton, Staples President: “I pledge to maximise the number of females in candidate pools when recruiting, and to personally engage in female leadership development programs throughout our organisation”
Kayrle Sieber, Vice President of Merchandising: “I pledge to call out when women are being excluded.”
Gordon Lang, Vice President of Supply Chain: “I pledge to rally my leadership team to promote and support the development of female leaders within our Supply Chain.”
The bigger picture
At the foundation of our efforts to support and advance women is our belief that a diverse and inclusive environment goes beyond race and gender and leverages the diversity of thought, people, and experience. Our commitment to diversity and inclusivity is interwoven into every element of our corporate responsibility agenda. Keep an eye out for the launch of Staples’ 2017-2018 Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan to learn how we are building a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
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