What Does a Better Balance Mean on International Women's Day?

SHRM celebrates the day with video and blog posts from staff members

By Allen Smith, J.D., and Kathy Gurchiek March 8, 2019

"Better Balance, Better World" (#BalanceforBetter) is the theme of this year's International Women's Day (IWD), celebrated today as a call to recognize women's achievements, provide greater equity in the workplace and offer the next generation of women more opportunities to enter male-dominated fields.

Global companies celebrate IWD, which often is marked abroad with special lunches to recognize women and their positive impact on businesses, according to Andrea Conner, president of ATHENA International, a nonprofit organization in Cary, N.C. It supports, develops and honors women leaders. 

But barriers around the world prevent women from working or advancing, she noted. 

"We're slowly putting chips into that glass ceiling. I believe women supporting women is making that difference," Conner said.

Many studies show having more women in leadership has a direct, positive correlation to a business's bottom line, according to Corinne Sharp, president of Sharp Perspective Inc. in Burlington, Ontario, Canada.  

"When 50 percent of the population are women and there is a talent gap in many industries, are business leaders really working hard enough to find, retain and grow their female talent?" she asked.

"Equal pay is still a huge issue," said Andee Harris, president of YouEarnedIt/HighGround, headquartered in Austin, Texas. "Women from October on are working free," she said, referencing the gender pay gap. Because of women's lower average hourly earnings, women around the world "work for free" beginning in October or November

Her company embarked on a pay-leveling project three months ago. It also is providing resources for women on its Slack network to help make the celebration of women a year-round activity. Harris, who is based in Chicago, is speaking at the headquarters of real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield there today.

In the U.S., jobs requiring education in science, technology, education and math (STEM) are still male-dominated, said Jessica Ortega. She is a website security analyst with SiteLock in Scottsdale, Ariz. When she meets with colleagues in Asia, often the only women present are in subordinate roles.

Equal representation of women is needed around the globe, she said. That will require additional efforts to attract top female talent and to provide STEM education to more girls, she pointed out.

SHRM Online has collected the following articles and resources on IWD from its archives and other trusted media outlets and organizations.

International Women's Day 2019: 'Better Workplaces, Better World' 

SHRM celebrates the achievements of women around the globe by participating in the 108th annual International Women's Day. As these contributions to society are applauded, it is important to recognize that women and girls continue to face barriers to education and employment in many countries.
SHRM staff members share in video and blog posts what they believe will build a world of work that works for all.

(SHRM blog)

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Introduction to the Global Human Resources Discipline]

Women Bang Pots and Pans in Madrid to Kick Off International Women's Day

Loudly banging pots and pans, a few hundred female protesters gathered in Madrid in the early hours on Friday to mark the start of International Women's Day. 

"It's essential to demonstrate and more [so] in a day like women's day because there are still a lot of gaps and problems in society that women face and need to overcome. We are in a patriarchal society," said Abril Vilatrollol, a 21-year-old cinema student protesting in the square.

Larger rallies are expected in Spain later Friday during a general strike, at a time when gender inequality has become a divisive issue ahead of an April 28 parliamentary election.

(New York Times)

International Women's Day: History, Strikes and Celebrations 

You might have seen International Women's Day mentioned in the media or heard friends talking about it. But what is it for? When is it? Is it a celebration or a protest? 


Gender Equality Sought in Middle East

In the lead-up to International Women's Day, the Arab Women's Organization of Jordan held a conference March 6 on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The event focused on labor law in the context of women's rights, said Manal Al-Talem, the organization's program coordinator for the Women's Political Participation Program. In addition, the Lebanese League for Women in Business recently launched a campaign to raise the number of women on boards of directors, with a target of 30 percent by 2025. 

(The Jerusalem Post)

Men and Women Must Work Together to Achieve Real Change 

Since the origins of the IWD in the early 1900s, women have achieved much in the workplace. While there have been many positive shifts, in 2019 IWD is as important as ever because this day raises awareness of the challenges that women face today in every part of the world and in every facet of our lives.

(SHRM Blog)

Events for IWD Include High Tea and Professional Wrestling 

IWD, which began in 1911 with women around the world rallying for voting and other rights, will be observed with all kinds of events today. Business chambers and councils of the International Chamber House in Melbourne, Australia, are holding an annual high tea and a panel discussion on promoting diversity. Entrepreneurs in Uganda are hosting a worldwide discussion on WhatsApp on gender balance that will be shared on various social-media platforms. And in London, She Fights on Fridays will feature all-female professional wrestlers "kicking gender stereotypes right in the face." 

(SHRM Online)

 [Visit SHRM's resource page on pay equity]

Women Still Struggle to Find a Job, Let Alone Reach the Top

Released on the eve of International Women's Day,  the International Labour Organization (ILO) report found that 1.3 billion women were at work in 2018, compared with 2 billion men—a less than 2 percent improvement in the last 27 years.

(UN News)

Equal Rights Lag Across the Globe

Only six countries—Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden—have equal rights for men and women, according to a World Bank report released March 2, up from zero a decade ago.

The report examined the following criteria: going places, starting a job, getting paid, getting married, having children, running a business, managing assets and getting a pension.

"Change is happening, but not fast enough, and 2.7 billion women are still legally barred from having the same choice of jobs as men," said World Bank Group Interim President Kristalina Georgieva.


Daring to Ride a Bike and 5 Other Ways Women Are Changing the World 

To highlight the March 8 commemoration, here are some of the remarkable women and women's movements NPR has covered over the past year. 



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