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The Women's March on Washington (WMW) on Saturday, and the sister marches occurring around the country and the world, will be sending a message to businesses as well as to President Donald Trump and others in government, according to a gender strategy expert.
Approximately 200,000 people are expected to participate in a national rally and the march in Washington, D.C.—open to anyone, regardless of gender or gender identity—taking place the day after Trump is sworn in as president of the United States. In the event's mission statement, the WMW organizers say they want to deliver "a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world, that women's rights are human rights. ... We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society."Organizations focused on immigration rights, the Muslim Women's Alliance, Girls Who Code and Black Girls Rock are among groups partnering with the WMW, according to The New York Times.The rally and march are the flashpoints that have been missing in the fight for workplace equality, noted corporate gender strategist Jeffery Tobias Halter. He is the author of Why Women: The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men (Fushian, 2015) and is president and founder of YWomen in Roswell, Ga., which focuses on corporate gender strategy. "There are really two tenets of the march that are important to organizations" and that impact HR, he said. They are:
Female, African-American, Hispanic and Asian workers all reportedly occupy a greater share of total domestic jobs than they did 14 years ago, according to a 2015 CareerBuilder report."Men are scared to death to talk about gender differences in the workplace," Halter said. "We are scared we will say or do the wrong thing and [women] will call HR."
Because most senior leaders are not ready for this conversation, he noted, by default middle management is not ready, either. Organizations should have a cohesive strategy around developing women as leaders, he said.
"Most [organizations] have some efforts around women, but they tend to be disjointed," Halter said, such as trying to have more diversity among suppliers or creating a women's employee resource group (ERG). Organizations instead need to develop holistic HR programs and processes that support equity in the workplace.
He recommended the following steps for senior leaders:
He noted that out of all Fortune 500 companies, as of Dec. 7, 2016, only a little more than 100 had signed the White House Pay Equity Pledge. The pledge is a public commitment to research and move toward paying men and women equally, Halter said.
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