The Martin James Network is passionate about forging the path towards a more gender-balanced world. Although we’ve seen a greater support of the cause in recent years, International Women’s Day (IWD) is the perfect opportunity to reinforce the idea that everyone has a role to play in today’s world, celebrating the achievements of women and calling for gender parity.
International Women’s Day, which is celebrated annually on 8th March, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights.
Across the world, from small, local celebrations through to largescale events and press conferences, people everywhere are delivering exciting and engaging accounts of the commitment individuals and businesses are making to raise awareness and change perceptions surrounding women’s equality.
The first IWD gathering took place in 1911 and was supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, with the Socialist Party of America, United Kingdom’s Suffragists and Suffragettes and further groups already leading the way for the development of women’s rights and equality. Today, IWD belongs to all groups of people working towards equal rights for women across the world.
Around the start of the movement in the early 20th century, International Women’s Day focused on activism and fighting hard for equality, concentrating on securing the right to vote and equal pay for women. Although we’ve made great steps forwards regarding some of these issues, women’s voices in society and the gender pay gap still remain key priorities over a century later.
In the 1970’s, widespread feminist action saw women rallying, protesting and lobbying hard for inclusion, influence and equality, but the arrival of the 1980’s saw an influx of “Fix the Women” programs. These pieces were designed with positive connotations, trying to help women become more confident, visible, well-networked and assertive but instead they reinforced a notion that women needed to “act like men” and “fit” into existing patriarchal structures if they want to succeed.
Across the last 20 years, we’ve seen more positive progress for the cause. Organisations have started questioning patriarchal structures in work-related situation, moving towards more diverse recruiting, inclusive talent pipelines, and attention to wider diversity groups beyond gender such as race, LGBT+ and so forth.
In the past few years, we’ve seen more men become advocates and champions of change, recognising their pivotal position as a key supporter in women’s equality. Many progressive CEOs and influential leaders have committed via formal public channels to help build diverse and inclusive organisations that challenge stereotypes and bias.
The 2017 and 2018 campaigns saw International Women’s Day as the most discussed topic on Facebook by millions – that’s even more than the Super Bowl! Everywhere, gender is on the radar, with stereotypes and bias being called out regularly in mainstream media.
As of 2020, we’ve seen the increase in other similar movements including #MeToo and #TimesUp, alongside the significant rise in support for International Women’s Day across the world. With the thousands of female-focused days and initiatives taking place each year globally, it’s clear to see that gender is firmly on the agenda!
We are moving towards a very exciting time in history where the world now “expects” gender balance – the world notices its absence and celebrates its presence. 2020, sees an important wave of collective individualism as we all strive to be #EachforEqual – because an equal world is an enabled world.
But there’s still a long way to go:
- Women lead only 14 of 195 countries
- Women are paid 23% less globally
- Only 7% of Fortune 500 Companies are run by Women
At this rate, it will take more than 100 years to reach ‘gender equality’, with the gender pay gap being a key focus for the cause.
According to the Office of National Statistics 2019 report, the UK’s average gender pay gap is 17.3%, with men being paid on average this much more than their female counterparts. The gender pay gap measures the difference between the average earnings of all male and female employees, irrespective of their role or seniority.
The Martin James Network is committed to achieving an equal world – our workforce across the UK is 59% female and 41% male, with women making up 45% of the senior team. In fact, the senior Antser management team has a gender balance of 57% female – an incredible feat in a sector where only 17% of the workforce is female. In addition, Loubna Bourfa of Okra was awarded the female ‘CEO of the Year’ at the Science & Technology Awards – an award that is richly deserved.
Our commitment to gender equality doesn’t just stop in the UK – 59% of the senior leaders of our global teams are female. Combined our total Directorship team across the UK and globally is 51% female and 49% male achieving a gender balance across the world.
As a network, we are committed to reporting on the positive progress we are making in this field, and we aim to keep maintaining our gender equal workforce and leadership teams, which is something that we are very proud of. Whilst there is always more that can be done, we know that we are starting from the right base and one that most organisations can only aspire to.