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Boycott gestures this IWD

Updated: May 6

First published on LinkedIn in March 2024

Despite being an advocate for equity in our society and women’s rights, over the past few years I’ve felt a growing sense of unease as we approach 8th March. In fact, what used to make me feel positive about the exposure for such an important cause on that day now feels as though it’s tipped to being performative. That we’ve confused gestures on social media as action. 

With roots in the early 1900s in the US and then Europe, the campaign was borne out of women's oppression and inequality spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. 

But by becoming a 'phrase-and-gesture' led social media campaign we seem to have inadvertently dumbed down complex issues, and risk being part of the problem itself. We risk obscuring from what matters: are women now treated equally and with equity? Have things improved in the last year?

In the country I live in (UK) the data shows a slightly improved national pay gap (for companies that report) of 7.7% for full-time employees. When you dig in to the data there are significant differences by age and job role type - particularly for women in manager roles.  We're moving in the right direction. Albeit slowly. What can you do? Ask for and understand your employer's results - and those organisations you buy from or use their services. In the UK you can look them up here for pay gap: 

A report worth reading for the data stateside - and a good insight to issues of intersectionality - is the annual McKinseys/LeanIn.Org. report 'Women in the Workplace 2023’ (surveying more than 27,000 employees and 270 senior HR leaders from 276 organizations).

2023 revealed 'hard-fought gains at the top, with women’s representation in the C-suite at the highest it has ever been. However, with lagging progress in the middle of the pipeline—and a persistent underrepresentation of women of color— true parity remains painfully out of reach’. This report has consistently been saying for years that it's no longer a 'glass ceiling' that's the biggest impediment but a failure to nurture the talent pipeline at the middle layers, and for women of colour - again questions you can ask your organisation.

In 2024 I invite you to focus on data rather than gestures this Friday, 8th March. Ask to see your organisation's data (including intersectional cuts), and talk about what’s changed since 8th March 2023 - and what more is planned.

Progress has been slow and according to the UN’s report on the Sustainability Development Goals it will take 300 years to reach gender equality without investment - to put that in perspective that’s 40 generations away...

In a week of focus on women and DEI, let’s focus on what counts. hashtag#Boycottgestures hashtag#Focusonthedata


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