The United States first celebrated the day — then dubbed the National Woman’s Day — on Feb. 28, 1909. It was celebrated annually on the last Sunday of February in the U.S. until 1913, when the widely adopted Gregorian calendar appointed the celebration to March 8. The day grew in popularity around the globe for the next several centuries. The United Nations celebrated International Women’s Day for the first time in 1975.
Nearly half a century later, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day in a world that still carries many biases toward women. Accordingly, the IWD organization has asked those recognizing the day to consider a central theme: #BreakTheBias.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we want to discuss how workplaces can #BreakTheBias and help women thrive at work and beyond.
Workplace bias looms large
The U.S. banned sex discrimination in the workplace in 1964, when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. While it’s safe to say employers have made progress since the sixties, the act has certainly not erased sexism from the workplace.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — the agency that enforces the Civil Rights Act and other federal anti-discrimination laws — received 67,448 charges of discrimination in fiscal year 2020. Charges involving sex discrimination amounted to 32% of those claims.
Those numbers tell us that sex discrimination is alive and well, even though laws banning it from the workplace have been in place for more than 50 years.
Fighting workplace discrimination
As employers grapple with the persistent force that sex discrimination is, a few best practices have emerged.
Above all, leaders must take all reports of sex discrimination seriously, investigating claims and implementing recourse as necessary. Other strategies include:
Creating applicant pools that feature as many women as men
Discluding pay history from compensation calculations
Normalizing mentorship and sponsorship opportunities
A challenge to support working women
Outside of these basic strategies, a company’s culture will do the heavy lifting in a company’s goal to #BreakTheBias. The pandemic highlighted this reality. Women left the workforce in droves when coronavirus caused schools and daycares. The companies who retained women were the companies who supported women with flexible working policies and ample time off.
Supporting women is not just about creating options for caregivers. Employers can also work to #BreakTheBias by highlighting women who rose to the top of their fields by creating opportunities for sponsorships and mentoring and by providing ample opportunities for advancement and learning for early career women.
To find out how PeopleBest can help your team #BreakTheBias and support your organization’s women workers, book a demo and set up a time to chat with one of our specialists.
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