Since its foundation in 1911, International Women’s Day has become a key moment to celebrate women’s success and to reinforce the commitment towards all aspects of gender equality across the globe. Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day 2023 and its theme to #EmbraceEquity, striving towards a future where equality is enshrined, and inclusivity breaks down the barriers of difference.
While equality and equity might seem like words that carry the same meaning, equity aims to give people from different backgrounds the amount of resources they need to achieve an equal outcome, rather than assuming everyone simply needs the same opportunities to succeed. It is a strategy that takes into account the diverse lived experiences women across the world face and aims to address our imbalanced social systems.
At ETF Partners we thrive thanks to our gender-diverse team. We celebrate the range of lived experiences and expertise that people from different walks of life can bring to our mission of sustainable investing. To mark International Women’s Day 2023, we asked our female team members what businesses can do to help women develop and grow in the workplace to ultimately create equity for all.
“There is an assumption that women aren’t ambitious, or that they don’t want to progress because they have children,” CFO Leanne England says. “That is a bias that we need to shift, since women are perfectly capable of holding down senior roles even if they work flexibly. The focus needs to alter from how long people spend in the office to their delivery and outcomes.”
One way to encourage successful outcomes for women in the workplace is to afford female employees the space to be recognised for their contributions, according to Associate at ETF Partners Elizabeth Kuester. “Employers need to pay attention to the voices of their female staff and ensure that they are being heard,” she says. “Everyone needs to be given credit for their ideas.”
There are also structural issues in hiring and progression that must be addressed if women are to achieve equity in business. “There is a ‘broken rung’ that tends to affect women more at the start of their careers, with many not moving up the career ladder at the same rate as men,” Investor Relations and Sustainability Manager Zoë VanderWolk says. “Organisations should be really clear from their earliest stages of hiring about paths to promotion and they must recognise the ‘glue work’ women are more likely to do, including mentoring and EDI, as valuable contributions. That can all feed into making sure that women and men are put up for promotion at similar rates.”
England also adds that when it comes to looking for work, prioritising a manager with the right attitude can be more beneficial than the status of the organisation itself. “Choose a manager and not a company,” she says. “I am lucky to have had some amazing managers and mentors in my career who have championed me throughout my career, even when I haven’t had that confidence in myself.”
Ultimately, by committing to these focused changes and moving forwards with a spirit of inclusion and encouragement, businesses can only benefit, and female employees will feel empowered to achieve their full potential. “Women need to stop apologising for taking up space. Believe in yourself, since you’re in the room for a reason,” England says. “Make sure to get your points across and claim your ideas.”
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, that confidence and sense of ownership is something to be cherished. It is a motivating factor that should drive women in business forward throughout 2023 and each year to come.