A Path Forward for Women’s Rights

February 8, 2017These are challenging times for women, but there’s also renewed momentum for change. Between Brexit and the new US administration, lots of change is going to be happening in the coming years. It’s vitally important that women and people of color aren’t marginalized or negatively impacted. And while it will be a long-term challenge to change the global dialogue, we can start by changing the conversation at work. And that’s how we begin to turn exclusion into inclusion. 

Fairness and gender parity don’t happen by accident. Business leaders need tools to use dialogue to build bridges across differences and foster inclusion in order to change minds, change behaviors, and create opportunities for all women—one workplace at a time. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do. And as the first Black woman elected to the US Congress, Shirley Chisholm, used to say, “If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

So how we continue to move the needle? 

Make Your Voice Heard
On January 21, we proudly stood in solidarity with our sisters (and brothers) marching in the Women’s March on Washington (as well as many other cities and countries around the world). According the latest count, nearly 3 million people participated, helping to give voice to the issues that matter most. We, along with the marchers, share a collective belief that when we advance women and families, it helps all of us. 

The facts speak for themselves. It’s 2017, and women earn $4,600 less than men in their first post-MBA jobs. Only about 20% of S&P 500 board seats are held by women, and women of color are nearly invisible on S&P 500 boards. And Catalyst researchers and experts have identified 10 additional issues that represent some of the biggest challenges facing women at work. Altogether, it’s time for intentional change, and that requires taking a bold stand.

Honor Game Changers 
The 2017 Catalyst Award winners are 3M, BMO, and Rockwell, which all have groundbreaking diversity and inclusion programs addressing the recruitment, development, and advancement of all women.

We’ll pay tribute to them at the Catalyst Awards Conference and Dinner, held on International Women’s Day, March 8, at the New York Hilton Midtown. With the theme Leadership Redefined, both events will celebrate transformational leaders and innovative corporate initiatives that strive to accelerate progress for women in the workforce. 

Not only will we celebrate these exceptional initiatives, and our selection as the International Women’s Day organization’s official charity partner, we will observe this year as the 30th anniversary of the Catalyst Award, celebrating corporate initiatives that help advance women in business. Since 1987, we have recognized 85 initiatives at 79 organizations around the world. 

Think Differently
At Davos, Catalyst together with our partners, Atlantic Media Strategies and The Female Quotient, released a playbook called The Modern Guide to Equality. Our goal through this joint effort is to address the problem of gender equality in the workplace holistically, combining generational insights, workplace trends, and interviews. We’ve tapped industry leaders to develop a toolkit and corporate workshops with next-step actions for change. It’s a great read, so please be sure to check it out. 

How do you plan to forge a path forward for women? I’d love to hear your and your organizations’ stories. 

The views expressed herein are solely those of the guest blogger and do not necessarily reflect those of Catalyst. Catalyst does not endorse any political candidates. The post and the comments are presented only for the purpose of informing the public.