Achieving gender parity in the working world could boost the combined profits of the US, UK and Indian economies by $655 billion. In stark contrast, in the UK alone the cost to each big business of losing its female talent can stack up to £780,000 per year.
International Women’s Day calls on every woman, everywhere, to take charge of her own career progression through bold action. But with the World Economic Forum predicting that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186, this year’s theme, #BeBoldForChange, asks that you cast your net wider, playing your part not just in propelling yourself, but in giving others in your environment a helping hand too.
Just imagine what might be possible if everyone committed to one small action…
1. SIGN UP TO BE A MODERN MUSE
Our research shows that 74% of women feel more inspired in their own careers when they have visibility of female role models. With women still underrepresented in industries such as science, technology, engineering and maths, schoolgirls, undergraduates and those entering the business world may need to look further afield to see what they can be.
The not-for-profit social enterprise Modern Muse is a place girls and educators can turn for a panoramic view of possibility. This online database and smartphone app puts work profiles of women of all ages, industries and educational backgrounds at the very fingertips of those seeking career guidance.
Whether you’re in your first or final role, you can sign up to become a Modern Muse, and help inspire the next generation of women to achieve all that they’re capable of.
2. BECOME A MENTOR
Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey and Jo Malone – some of the biggest names in business have credited their success in part to the inspiration and support provided by a trusted mentor. But did you know that senior female managers are less likely than their male peers to be mentored by an executive leader?
Anyone, at any age can become a mentor. Whether you’re offering help and guidance to the organisational newcomer fresh from college, or to the emerging leader who needs a helping hand navigating the challenges of the boardroom, giving your time offers as many rewards to the senior partner as it does the junior. Start earning your stripes as a mentor – or give yourself a refresher course in its art – by downloading our members-only workbook, Becoming a mentor. Don’t forget to share the love with your protégé by recommending they download Getting the most out of being mentored. We also have a range of listen-on-demand webinars to inspire both mentors and mentees on their journeys.
3. SPEED UP CHANGE – LITERALLY
Whether your organisation already has a mentoring scheme, or wants to create one from scratch, hosting a speed-mentoring event is a fantastic way to launch or reinvigorate an existing programme.
Built on the principles of speed dating, a speed mentoring session gives potential mentors and mentees a chance to work the room holding a series of quick-fire conversations, with successful matches going on to form lasting connections. Fairly straightforward to put together and with low organisational overheads, this could be the start of many a powerful workplace partnership.
It was genuinely exciting to see employees get together [at our first speed mentoring event] and begin to create networks that may well exist for the remainder of their careers.
Alan Garwood, Group Business Development Director & Executive Committee Sponsor for Diversity & Inclusion, BAE Systems
If you’re looking to host your own session, or inspire your organisation’s events or HR team to action, our quick and practical guide to hosting a speed mentoring session will tell you everything you need to get started. It’s normally available to members only, but is free to non-members until 31st March 2017. Ready? Set… Mentor.
4. INSPIRE A LEARNING CHAIN REACTION
Giving other women a leg up the career ladder isn’t just about looking behind you. On International Women’s Day, devote some time to the important but often under-practised art of peer-to-peer coaching.
- Reflect on which of the thousands of articles, webinars and workbooks in the everywoman library you have personally found most inspirational, though-provoking, change-inducing or practically applicable in your working life.
- Consider who in your peer network of everywoman members could most benefit from tapping into the same resource.
- Share a link to that content with a personalised ‘Happy International Women’s Day’ message detailing what you gained from the material and how you believe a click will help them prosper too. Number crunchy fans might also want to include a fact from our latest member survey - that regular users of our learning and development resources are 42% more likely to be promoted.
5. DELEGATE, DELEGATE, DELEGATE
At our recent everywoman Forum: Advancing Women in Technology, no single question elicited such a unanimous show of hands as this: Who would love it if their direct reports asked for more responsibility?
And yet most employees simply don’t take the initiative, raise their hand for stretch assignments, or actively identify opportunities on the horizon.
Take matters into your own hands on International Women’s Day and beyond, by inviting each of your direct reports to use a chunk of 1-2-1 time to summarise for you their career plan (if they don’t have one, they can make a start here) and the types of skill-broadening opportunities that will best propel them towards their next goal. You might not have a heap of projects to dole out right now, but only by knowing what interests and motivates them can you stay attuned to future possibilities.
Some resources to help…