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International Women's Day: Companies need to show how they're invoking change

Last Updated Mar 8, 2021 at 8:46 am PDT

(CREDIT: iStock)

As world marks International Women's Day, PR expert says it's important companies not treat it like Hallmark holiday

International Women's Day isn't about raising business profiles through vague sentiments, PR expert says

Survey finds pay equity remains a persistent challenge for Canadian organizations

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Monday marks International Women’s Day — a day to celebrate the achievements of women, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality.

But a public relations expert is warning companies not to treat the occasion like a holiday.

“I think a lot of companies look at International Women’s Day like a Hallmark holiday, like Mother’s Day or Valentines Day, and don’t really understand the foundations, roots, or purpose of the end-goal observance of IWD,” explained Lesli Boldt with Boldt Communications.

She’s urging companies to remember that the day isn’t about raising business profiles through vague sentiments.

“If companies don’t think through their strategy around observing International Women’s Day, it can come back to bite them because International Women’s Day is all about gender parity, gender equality, you know, smashing the patriarchy,” Boldt told NEWS 1130.

“The roots are actually in the suffragette movement in social-democratic and labour-organizing movements, and I think a lot of companies don’t even know that. They just see it as a way to say ‘hello’ to the ladies and I think they need to understand that what International Women’s Day is really about is raising the profile and accomplishments of women, but also calling to attention what needs to change in order for women to truly have an equal opportunity, but also the support they need to be running with the wolves, with everyone else. And we don’t have that right now,” she added.

She says any company — especially those in male-dominated industries — which are highlighting International Women’s Day should be talking about what they are doing to support and help women get into their fields.

“Engineering, technology — there’s a lot of sectors that are very male dominated. If they’re going to embrace International Women’s Day, they should be demonstrating how they’re creating opportunities for women to get in those fields,” added Boldt.

“I think if the company is authentically taking steps to support, celebrate the achievement of women … then I think it’s valid for them to show it off a little bit and it’s appropriate for them to be there. But if they’re only doing advertising … then they’re really not addressing the underlying issues that are creating barriers for women in all sorts of fields,” she said.

A new survey from ADP Canada and Leger Marketing shows that pay equity remains a persistent challenge for Canadian organizations. It also shows the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on women when it comes to career growth and stress levels.

While school and childcare struggles have affected all working parents, the survey has found that working mothers were disproportionately impacted, with 50 per cent of moms reporting high stress related to balancing work life and their family obligations. That’s compared to the 40 per cent of men who said the same.