Celebrating women’s achievements, forging women’s empowerment, and building workplaces where women thrive.
I am writing this in late February 2023 from my hotel room in Washington D.C., where I am attending the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), the largest annual convention for the credit union industry. This morning I had the opportunity to hear a professional futurist, Yas Arikan, speak on the foresight process at Filene's GAC Chair's Breakfast. A futurist’s role is not to predict the future, but rather to try to plan for potential scenarios that may occur. As I listened to this presentation, I felt it bore relevance to the topic of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023.
IWD is celebrated each year on March 8th as part of Women’s History Month. When IWD was first launched in 1911, it established its purpose to advance women’s equality. More than 100 years later, we are still working toward the advancement of equality as evidenced by this year’s official IWD theme #EmbraceEquity.
Embracing Equity will mean something different to each one of us. The IWD organization describes it as:
Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #EmbraceEquity.
How do we evolve from a place of imagining a gender equal world to actually realizing one? It won’t happen overnight — after all, IWD has been working to move that one goal forward since 1911 — but is still one we can work toward, starting with IWD 2023.
That is what brings me back to the futurist’s discussion this morning. She spoke of the four questions that drive “Strategic Doing,” as based on the book Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership. These four questions provide a continuum upon which strategies can be not only formulated, but also successfully implemented. This strategic formula is one we can each employ in our personal and professional lives to drive and #EmbraceEquity.
- What could we do? There is so much opportunity for what we can do to help facilitate gender equity that it is hard to even know where to start. But if we don’t start, change will not follow. In our professional environments we can make a concerted effort to provide all employees with the resources and tools to make them more promotable. If our employees are not trained and provided with the appropriate skills needed to be viewed as leaders within our organizations, they will be bypassed when promotional opportunities arise. As the Chair of our State National Women’s Network, I, along with our Network’s leadership team, strive to provide programming and education that will help advance the careers of our colleagues.
- What should we do? We all know we should hire and promote without bias. Sometimes we don’t even realize our biases exist until we take a step back and see consistent patterns that may indicate an unconscious bias prevails. While this is not to imply we should only hire women in leadership roles to “even the playing field,” we are obligated to recruit and interview from a diverse candidate pool to ensure all candidates are represented and given an equal opportunity.
- What will we do? IWD has become an annual day of reflection for me — a day to set my goals for the coming year and to commit to what I will do to support the current year’s IWD theme. What will I do to support #EmbraceEquity? I am making this public commitment to support all genders in a like manner without preconceived biases, stereotypes, or discrimination. That is my plan. What will YOU do?
- What’s our 30/30? This last question is intended to create a plan to evaluate, approximately 30 days from now, what we have learned or witnessed and what we will do differently in the next 30 days. While I refer to this as the “last question,” it is really the first question in starting the process all over again as we continue to grow and evolve.
Awareness and Commitment Create Change
State National will be celebrating IWD 2023 in our corporate headquarters with fun and informative events planned for our employees. Creating awareness is the first step in facilitating change. Progress comes one person and one day at a time. If we are all committed to fostering change, it may not require another 112 years before the world realizes a life free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
State National Celebrates International Women's Day 2023
To learn more about International Women’s Day, or to access resources to take action within your community, visit www.internationalwomensday.com.