Today, August 26, is Women’s Equality Day in the United States, a holiday commemorating the anniversary of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote in 1920.
While this was certainly a milestone in American History, the 99th anniversary of the amendment’s passing has gotten a lot of people talking not just about how far we’ve come, but how much further we still have to go to for gender equality in America.
In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that at the current rate of change, it will take 208 years to achieve gender equality in the United States.
Yes, over twocenturies.
With that statistic in mind, it’s clear that Women’s Equality Day means more than simply looking back at the courageous acts of our ancestors — but also look to what we can do together (men AND women) to achieve change at a faster rate whether that be in pay, senior leadership opportunities, or workplace bias.
On #WomensEqualityDay don't use words for women like 'empower' and 'celebrate'. Use words like 'hire', 'promote', 'pay', 'raise', 'bonus', 'invest', 'fund', 'enrich' - and DO IT. Leaders, ask for that employee pay spreadsheet, find the women, raise their pay to the same as men's pic.twitter.com/GW5UH8Gyvs
How can you be proactive about gender equality in your workplace?
The United States may have a long way to go when it comes to gender equality, as a whole, but that doesn’t mean that business owners can’t start taking action today.
The Equality Can’t Wait Campaign, founded by Melinda Gates, recommends small steps people can take today to bring awareness to the gender inequality in and out of the workplace:
Recognize bias: Take an honest look at any hidden biases in the workplace that may factor into hiring decisions, salary determinations, or promotions and raises.
Start an honest conversation: Asking some of the hard questions, like “Why aren’t there more women in senior leadership roles?” “Why are there more CEO’s named James than there are women CEOs in the US?” can be great ways to bring awareness. Big change starts small.
Ignite change: Speak up or start support or focus groups in your workplace that help promote gender equality in the workplace. Things like mentorship programs for women moving into senior leadership, advocating for paid maternity (and paternity!) leave, or taking action against sexual harrassment or discrimination.