Written by: Sophie Warwick.
With less than 2 months until International Women’s Day (IWD), many employers and Employee Resource Group (ERG) leaders are busy planning celebrations for their offices. Each year on March 8th I find my social media pages full of pink cupcakes with little IWD flags on them. And while I love an opportunity to celebrate gender equity and am the first to admit I have a sweet tooth; I often find these posts lacking impact.
In this article, I’m sharing my top 5 tips to plan a meaningful IWD event. You can have your cupcakes and eat them too!
Define a purpose. Consider what the goals of the event are, and what this year’s gender equity initiatives are, before getting into the details of event planning. Is there a new partnership that has been established with an outreach organization? This could be a great opportunity to bring in a speaker from that group to talk about the impact support has on their community. Is there a goal to improve engagement and belonging? Focus the event on connection and plan a social that provides space for team members to build meaningful relationships. Grounding IWD celebrations in purpose will help organizations support their broader Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) goals and create a more meaningful event. This year’s theme is Inspire Inclusion which can be a great place to start.
Include all genders in the celebrations. IWD is a fantastic opportunity to have real conversations about active and engaged allyship in the workplace. The goal is to make celebrating gender diversity in the workplace something everyone is excited to participate in, not just those who identify as women. This can help transition Women’s ERG efforts into actions that are integrated into broader company culture.
Create an opportunity for growth and education. EDI is a journey and therefore it is important to commit to continued learning. Consider hosting a workshop or seminar on IWD, or using the day to announce upcoming training that will be available later in the year. Educational events can compliment and elevate social programming by offering employees the opportunity to learn about actionable items they can implement in their typical workdays.
Make positive change for women in the workplace more than just one day. Use March 8th as a launching point to discuss other initiatives planned for the upcoming year. It can be discouraging for employees who identify as women to hear so much noise on IWD, only to return to work on March 9th and find business as usual. Closing celebrations with actionable items, either for leaders (e.g. introducing standardized questions into all interviews to reduce bias in assessments) or for all employees (e.g. inviting team members to share their pronouns in their email signatures) creates a catalyst for sustainable change.
Be open to receiving feedback. Establish a line of communication by providing a specific contact email that any employee can reach out to share what they liked about the event and if they have any feedback. If something didn’t land, it’s important to be receptive of that perspective and adapt moving forward. The act of having a concern heard can have so much impact to feelings of belonging and validation in the workplace – both are significant contributors to engagement and retention.
If you’re looking for meaningful programming this IWD, we offer high impact workshops on a variety of topics ranging from Unlocking the Value of Gender Equity at Work to Active Allyship: Paving the Way to Inclusivity. Book a virtual workshop now using our Calendly here. Don't see a time that works for you, or you'd prefer in person? Book a free intro call here and we can find a time that works for your group.