Gender diversity is hugely vital to employers and employees as it offers varied perspectives, increases innovation, and improves customer targeting. Having an inclusive workplace also improves staff retention and boosts productivity because all employees feel valued and appreciated. In addition, according to McKinsey, the most gender-diverse companies are 25% more likely to experience above-average profitability.
As it is so important to both employers and employees, make sure you add the below gender diversity dates to your 2024 calendar!
International Day of Women and Girls in Science is dedicated to promoting gender equality in STEM fields and 2024 is the 9th year it has been celebrated. Throughout history, a significant gender gap has remained and so this day aims to encourage more women and girls to go into these subjects. Even though work has been put into increasing this number, women still only make up 26%. It is important that we increase this percentage because having diversity provides increased progress in these fields due to the different views and ideas it brings.
How can you help celebrate? Firstly, it is beneficial to learn about women’s contributions to science to understand how important it is to try to increase this and will also show you what women can achieve in STEM areas. For example, Katherine Johnson was a mathematician and one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist. She is best known for making the calculations that allowed the first Americans to enter Earth’s orbit and set foot on the moon.
In addition, if you have a daughter or if you know any young girls interested in science, make sure to encourage them to follow their passion by showing them the positive impact on society that they could have. Having role models will help increase the desire for other women to get into the industry. Research has shown that role models have an increased benefit for women over men due to gender biases, institutional barriers, and the negative stereotypes women have had to contend with. Lastly, you can donate in the form of a scholarship to help women and girls study science.
International Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1911 which included millions of people in a march and rally campaign for women’s rights. Whilst we have come a long way since then in the UK, 59% of women in the world deal with non-inclusive behaviour at work with almost 3 in 5 women experiencing harassment or microaggression in the workplace worldwide. It has also been estimated that will take approximately 52 years to close the gender gap in Western Europe. In broader terms, according to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 3 women globally will experience either physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, either in the workplace or outside. Therefore, it is important we raise awareness and do what we can to help those who need it and who may not have a voice.
In addition, many women and girls don’t have the resources and opportunities to be able to get a good education or career progression opportunities. For example, our lives generally depend strongly on technology, whether that’s to attend a course, be able to work, look for jobs, etc. However, 37% of women don’t use the internet. In fact, 259 million fewer women have access to the internet than men, making it hard to develop the necessary digital skills needed to do many jobs, particularly in STEM roles. This already puts women at a big disadvantage in the workplace as it is predicted by 2050, 75% of jobs will be in STEM areas. This also makes it all the harder to reduce the gender pay gap, highlighting why it is imperative we raise awareness and partake in International Women’s Day (IWD).
IWD it is still a day to draw attention to gender equality, discrimination, and stereotypes but also the accomplishments of women so far. For example, women have always played important roles in movements, such as voting rights, civil rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, labour rights and children’s rights. They have also had great achievements in medicine, science and maths. A great example is Susan Wojcicki who started her career in marketing for Intel in California, before becoming Google’s first ever marketing manager in 1999. In 2014, Wojcicki moved over to work on YouTube and was later named the company’s new CEO – a huge milestone in her career and in her first year was named “most powerful woman on the internet” by TIME.
This year (2024) the theme for the day is #InspireInclusion and all organisations, groups and individuals all over the world. There are many ways organisations can take part in this day; some are listed below:
Individuals or organisations can also encourage others by sharing your #InspireInclusion photos across social media using #IWD2024 #InspireInclusion. You can submit an #InspireInclusion image and statement here. You can also attend events, which you can search for here.
March is Women’s History Month which celebrates the contribution of women throughout history. For centuries many women have spoken out and fought against inequality and brought attention to the benefits which equality has on society. A great step in the right direction was when women earned the right to vote in many Western countries in the early 1900s. However, this is still has not meant that women were experiencing equality. Since then, many women over the years have continued to work for this, from activists to modern-day politicians and CEOs and those women that has gone into careers that were thought of as jobs for men, allowing others to follow in their footsteps. An example is Ada Lovelace is considered the first computer programmer.
You can celebrate by learning about women’s history through books, such as a biography about a female pioneer. One to note might be Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World’ by Rachel Ignotofsky. You can also get involved by making a donation to an organisation for women’s education or volunteering at a local organisation which supports women.
The National Day for Staff Networks is the world’s only nationwide day dedicated to recognising networks/resource groups and the incredible value they add to the workplace. Staff networks are voluntary groups of employees that share similar beliefs, backgrounds or interests who can come together in a safe and confidential environment to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with one another. They allow each member to feel a sense of belonging and help to have a diverse company as everyone feels included.
For example, women’s networks provide a space where they can openly talk about things like flexible working, childcare, work-life balance. They can also help promote development in a company because if the group feels like the company needs some changes in these areas, they can collectively raise this issue, rather than one person needing to speak out alone. Supporting this, research has shown that nearly 40% of organisations have relied on their networks to keep them informed on the well-being of employees.
Find out more about employee networks and how to start one here.
In 2022 the mean gender pay gap was at 5.5% and for the tech industry it was 11.6%. Whilst there is still work to do, this is an improvement on previous years and International Pay Day celebrates the efforts that have been put into decreasing this percentage and to ensure it remains a talked about topic. There are many factors that go into unbalanced pay, for example, some women are missing out on promotions because they are going to male employees instead, others fall behind on career progression due to childcare, and occupational segregation (the idea that the occupations dominated by men usually pay better than the ones dominated by women), to name just a few.
You can observe this day by helping to raise awareness about pay equity by having conversations about the problems within the area, both at work and at home. If you are an employer, you can show what you have done to try to tackle the issue and what you are looking to do in the future. Alternatively, if you are an employee you can take up any imbalances you have found to your employer and get the conversation going.
You can find out more about the gender pay gap in tech here.
Menopause is a natural stage later in life, generally between 45 and 55, that can have large physical and mental effects and during this time, as many as 8 in 10 are still in work and around 13 million people are currently peri or menopausal in the UK. Some of the symptoms are changes in mood, hair loss, difficulty sleeping, hot flushes, palpitations, memory problems, migraines, anxiety and UTI’s. Sometimes these symptoms can be eased with medication, but with little education on the subject, many are suffering in silence.
Despite it affecting so many people, it often isn’t talked about, so World Menopause Day aims to raise awareness about menopause and the support options for women and to make the subject less taboo. Some ways to observe this day is talk to friends, family and colleagues about menopause, so you can either give advice, take advice or learn how you can help someone else. All these conversations will help to break the stigma. There are also a wide range of resources you can use to educate yourself on the topic, so you can either help yourself, or someone else you know. If you are an employer, you can also make sure your employees know the date for World Menopause Day, in a way to start open conversations in the workplace.
Learn more about how you can thrive through menopause here.
Baby Loss Awareness Week is dedicated to raising awareness for pregnancy and baby loss and to encourage individuals to share their experiences and help support each other. It was established in the United Kingdom in 2002 by a group of charities, including Sands, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity, and Bliss, the special care baby charity. Pregnancy loss can come in many forms, such as embryonic pregnancy, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, and stillbirth. With around 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in miscarriage alone, this demonstrates why this week is important for so many people. Not only are there the physical effects that pregnancy loss has, but there can also be a huge impact on mental health. A study has even shown that those that suffered early pregnancy loss almost 1 in 5 had PTSD, 1 in 6 had anxiety and 1 in 20 had depression.
There are many ways to give involved in this week. Below are just a few:
You can find out more about miscarriage and pregnancy loss company support policies here.
Having a diverse and inclusive workplace allows all employees to feel valued, appreciated and supported. It can also have many benefits on a company as it will increase the talent pool, bring new ideas to the table, and increase motivation and progress. National Inclusion Week brings awareness to the importance inclusion and diversity and it has grown exponentially over the years, reaching thousands of companies and individuals.
Below are some ways you can show your support this year:
You can read more about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace here.