Five ways to #PressForProgress in your business

Workplace and wellbeing

6 March 2018

International Women's Day falls on 8 March and this year’s theme is #PressForProgress.

In practice, this is a call to action, encouraging people to press forward and continue the drive for gender equality – something that last year's World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report claims is nearly 200 years away, if change continues at today's pace.

Using a hashtag is all well and good, but actively pressing for progress in your organisation is much better – whether you're male or female.

As Gloria Steinem said, "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."

So with that in mind, here are just a few ways small business owners and sole traders can #PressforProgress.

Offer equal pay for equal work

It's an obvious one, but a big one. The gender pay gap is often debated, but it's still a major issue – particularly in male-dominated professions. A recent ONS study has shown that men working full time can expect to earn 9% more than women and this rises to 24.8% in the skilled trades. Business professionals aren't exempt – female CEOs and senior officials can expect to make 24.7% less than their male counterparts. Look at how you pay staff – including freelancers – and revise if there’s an imbalance.

Aim for a 50/50 gender balance

Some fields (such as construction or computer programming) are male dominated, so this can be tricky. But working towards a goal of 50/50, and actively seeking women to employ, is an important way to press for gender parity. If you're a sole trader, look at the organisations you work with and question their policies – are women included? If not, why not?

Challenge biases

Speaking up against sexist or stereotyping comments will help to challenge the perception that women are less able than men. It's a brave thing to do, and a great way to encourage people to see female professionals in the same light as male ones. Likewise, little tweaks to your language can help too – for example saying "construction workers" rather than "workmen".

Boost female visibility

Look for ways you can help women to become more prominent as role models within your profession. You can do this by offering speaking opportunities to women you work with and going to them first when the opportunities come through. Supporting women who have already put themselves out there, by using their services or attending their talks, is another way to help gender parity – it shows there's demand for a female presence.

Challenge your own beliefs

If you find yourself rolling your eyes at the idea of gender parity, ask yourself why. Sometimes we have ingrained beliefs that need challenged. If you believe all women are better at caring professions than men, and that all men are better at techy stuff than women, it might be time to sit down and rethink your beliefs around gender.

How are you going to #PressForProgress in your organisations? Let us know in the comments below or share your story with us on social media @AXAInsurance