International Women's Day (IWD) is a globally recognised annual event celebrated on March 8th, dedicated to honouring the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women throughout history. It serves as a platform to raise awareness about gender inequality, advocate for women's rights, and promote inclusivity and diversity in various spheres of life.
On March 8th, 1977, the United Nations officially celebrated the very first International Women’s Day. There’s no doubt we’ve seen a huge difference in equality since then but despite everything we’ve achieved, challenges still persist today. Continued efforts are essential to build on the progress made and work towards a more equitable and inclusive world for all genders. International Women's Day remains a crucial platform for raising awareness, celebrating achievements, and putting tangible initiatives into place to address the ongoing challenges faced by women and people with periods globally.
Corporate Businesses & IWD
International Women's Day stands as a pivotal moment for corporate businesses to champion inclusivity, diversity, and the empowerment of females in the workplace. While every IWD activation is valid and worthwhile, we can’t help but feel that a lot of organisations fall into the trap of ‘woke-washing’ when March 8th rolls around. The cute branded cupcakes just aren’t cutting anymore…
Crafting a well-rounded plan for this celebration involves strategic and tangible initiatives that promote a culture of equality and respect. Here's an in-depth guide on how corporate businesses can thoughtfully plan for International Women's Day with a focus on inclusivity, diversity, and the advancement of females in the workplace:
1. Establishing an Inclusive Planning Team:
Form an inclusive planning committee or task force, ensuring representation from diverse backgrounds and allowing anyone to get involved to bring a wide array of perspectives to the forefront.
2. Setting Inclusive Objectives:
Define clear objectives for your International Women's Day celebration. Whether it's raising awareness, promoting diversity and inclusion, or something as simple as providing free period care in the office bathrooms, having well-defined goals will guide your planning process. Align these goals with broader corporate initiatives, outside of IWD, to reinforce a unified approach that stays active after March 8th.
3. Educational Initiatives on Diversity:
Conduct workshops, seminars, or webinars to educate all employees on the importance of diversity in the workplace. Bringing female leaders and experts in this space to speak on a panel discussion addressing topics like unconscious bias, micro-aggressions, and fostering a culture of inclusivity can be instrumental.
4. Recognition of Diverse Achievements:
Celebrate the achievements of women and people with periods from diverse backgrounds within the organisation. Host recognition events, spotlights, or awards that highlight the contributions of women from various ethnicities, cultures, and abilities.
5. Skill-building Workshops with Inclusive Focus:
Offer skill-building workshops that specifically address inclusivity and diversity. Consider topics such as inclusive leadership, cultural competence, and fostering an environment that supports the needs of women and people with periods in the workplace. In doing so, you’re fostering a workplace culture that encourages employees to speak up when something doesn’t feel right; it shows them how valued every single employee is, no matter what their gender is.
6. Corporate Social Responsibility with Diversity in Mind:
Engage in community projects or partnerships that support the advancement of women from diverse backgrounds. Collaborate with organisations that focus on inclusivity and diversity to make a meaningful impact beyond the corporate walls. For example, all corporate organisations that work with us at Riley have the option to donate to help us provide period care and menstrual education programmes to those that need them most. We’re proudly partnered with 3 trailblazing charities; Development Pamoja in Kenya, Period Positive Ireland and Bloody Good Period in the UK. Collectively, we’ve on a mission to eradicate period poverty, shame and stigma, one menstruator at a time.
7. Flexible Work Policies for Inclusivity:
Advocate for and promote inclusive work policies, such as flexible schedules and remote work options. Recognise that inclusivity involves accommodating the needs and lifestyles of all employees to create an environment where everyone can thrive.
8. Access to Free Sanitary Products:
Providing employees with free access to period products like tampons and sanitary pads is not only a compassionate and ethical practice but also contributes to fostering a positive and inclusive workplace environment.
Here are several reasons why corporates should consider offering Riley’s eco-friendly period products to their employees:
1. Encourages Diversity & Inclusion:
Offering free sanitary products promotes inclusivity by recognising and supporting the diverse needs of employees. It sends a message that the company values the well-being of all individuals, regardless of gender.
2. Aligns with the UNs Sustainable Development Goals
3. Demonstrates Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR):
Providing free sanitary products aligns with corporate social responsibility initiatives. It signals to employees, clients, and the broader community that the company is committed to social issues and the well-being of its workforce.
4. Promotes Health and Well-Being:
Access to sanitary products is essential for the health and well-being of employees. By providing free products, employers contribute to the physical and mental health of their workforce.
5. Addresses Gender Equality:
Offering free sanitary products demonstrates a commitment to gender equality. It acknowledges the unique needs and challenges faced by women and people with periods in the workplace and helps eliminate barriers to their full participation.
6. Reduces Financial Burden:
Menstrual products can be a significant expense for individuals. By offering free access, corporates alleviate the financial burden on employees, ensuring that they do not have to choose between purchasing essential items and meeting their basic needs.
7. Supports Period Dignity and Comfort:
Access to free sanitary products supports the dignity and comfort of employees. It ensures that individuals can manage their menstrual hygiene without anxiety or discomfort, contributing to a more positive and respectful workplace environment.
8. Enhances Productivity:
When employees have easy access to sanitary products, they can focus on their work without the added stress of needing to have their bag stocked at all times. This contributes to increased productivity and overall job satisfaction.
9. Attracts and Retains Talent:
A workplace that prioritises the needs and well-being of its employees is more likely to attract and retain top talent. Companies that are mindful of the diverse needs of their workforce create a positive and inclusive reputation.
10. Compliance with Legislation:
In some regions, there are legal requirements or regulations mandating the provision of sanitary products in the workplace. Ensuring compliance with such regulations demonstrates a commitment to following ethical and legal standards.
11. Contributes to a Positive Organisational Culture:
Providing free sanitary products is a tangible way for companies to contribute to a positive organisational culture. It shows that the company cares about the holistic well-being of its employees, creating a more supportive and compassionate workplace.
In summary, offering free access to sanitary products is a progressive and humane practice that not only addresses practical needs but also aligns with the values of equality, dignity, and social responsibility. It contributes to creating a workplace where all employees feel valued, supported, and able to perform at their best.
9. Continuous Feedback and Evaluation:
Gather feedback by circulating anonymous surveys to evaluate the impact of your initiatives each year. Find out whether or not they had a lasting effect, what your employees found beneficial, and if certain activities should be repeated all year long or just around IWD. Use this information to refine and improve future efforts, ensuring that International Women's Day serves as a catalyst for ongoing progress in building an inclusive workplace.
By weaving inclusivity, diversity, and the advancement of women and people with periods into the fabric of your International Women's Day initiatives, corporate businesses can contribute significantly to fostering a workplace culture that is not only diverse but also truly inclusive and empowering for all. This approach ensures that the celebration goes beyond a single day once a year, creating a lasting impact on the organisational ethos.