The annual celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) is often seen as an opportunity for companies to showcase their support for gender equality. However, Sophie Walker, a media consultant and founder of the Women’s Equality Party, recently went viral with her suggestions on how companies can genuinely empower women instead of engaging in “performative feminism.” Here are a few highlights from her viral post that resonated with many women across professions and age groups.
Compensate IWD speakers and organizers fairly.
Walker emphasizes the importance of paying women speakers and organizers fairly for their work. Often, women take on “emotional labor” in the workplace, contributing to the company culture and well-being without receiving additional compensation. Ensuring fair pay for women participating in IWD events can help address this imbalance.
Evaluate your company’s pay gap.
Before celebrating IWD, companies should examine their gender pay gap and address any disparities. If the gap remains wide, especially in comparison to last year’s IWD commitments, holding an event might seem hypocritical and counterproductive.
Encourage women without victim-blaming.
While research has shown that women tend to apply only for jobs they are 100% qualified for, training should focus on addressing unconscious bias in hiring managers and recruiters rather than simply telling women to be more confident.
Avoid the “pink tax” trap.
Using pink products to promote gender equality might seem harmless, but it inadvertently contributes to the “pink tax,” where women pay more for similar products intended for men. This tax, combined with the gender pay gap, exacerbates financial disparities between men and women.
Challenge the “kinder, gentler” stereotype.
Promoting the idea that more equal work will be “kinder and gentler” only serves to reinforce gender stereotypes. Women, like men, can be forceful, aggressive, and powerful. Assuming that women are naturally empathetic contributes to the emotional labor burden.
Walker’s suggestions have been widely shared, indicating that many women are eager for genuine change in the workplace. Companies should consider these insights as they work towards fostering true gender equality beyond International Women’s Day.