Today marks International Women’s Day. Social media is alight with posts championing women, gender equality and women’s rights. With this year’s theme being #PledgeForParity, what will be your organisation’s call to action?

This International Woman’s Day theme for 2016 is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. An independent campaign, separate from the UN, is being run by various corporate partners, organizing events around a #PledgeForParity hashtag. Broadly speaking, the concept is simple, but effective. Men and women alike are asked to step forward and declare their commitment to speeding up the gender equality movement by making simple concrete pledges to take positive action in one way or another.

Urgent is a strong word. But it is by no means an exaggerated term in the context of this cause. The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. By 2015, they revised this estimation in light of a considerable slowdown in progress, and current predictions are that the gender gap will not close entirely until 2133. As pace goes, that is positively glacial, and until the world unites to embrace the cause, and to take real practical steps towards improving the balance of opportunity for women, it’s a long road ahead.

So, take the plunge. When better than International Women’s Day to re-evaluate, set some achievable goals, make some commitments and start the wheels of positive change turning for women all over the world. Because, although gender parity may seem a vast mountain to climb, every step marks a step in the right direction. By participating in a Pledge for Parity, you will not only be raising awareness of the issue of women’s rights, but also taking the first step towards creating a long term, practical and sustainable programme for the advancement of women in your workplace. Advancement which will pave the way for realising greater business and economic potential, significantly improved opportunities for future generations of women, and a legacy which, ultimately, our generation can feel proud to have left behind.

Whether you’re stuck for ideas, or so caught up in the complexity of the issue you can’t see the wood for the trees, here are a few suggestions that would make for great pledges:

  • Work on developing more inclusive, flexible policies
  • Assess and address any gender pay gaps in your organisation
  • Challenge bias throughout your business – conscious and unconscious
  • Support women in achieving their ambitions in your workplace
  • Ensure fair and equal representation of women in succession planning
  • Support and champion relevant women’s rights charities
  • Celebrate and champion the achievements of women in your organisation
  • Create a calendar of awareness raising events in your workplace (e.g. seminars on flexible working, inspirational role models / speakers)
  • Create female mentoring and female sponsor programmes in areas / corners of your business where gender parity is a potential issue
  • Assess and audit the levels of engagement across your female workforce, and take action to remedy any issues

However simple or complex your pledge, make it public. Encourage your teams to embrace the cause and make their own pledges. Above all, make it count. Because wouldn’t it be great if, next International Women’s Day, you could look back and say you knocked that pledge out of the park. And wouldn’t it be great if next International Women’s Day we could universally celebrate the significant speed up of the race to close the gender parity gap.

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