International Women’s Day is a global day dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Earlier on in my career, I would have reflected on this as a fantastic celebration—but one that potentially fostered a divide between genders, rather than something that unified them.
To be fair, I thought, shouldn’t we balance this with an International Men’s Day? My perspective at the time was largely shaped by the fact that I grew up with a father, a colonel in the military (who, when I was 8, bought me a T-shirt that said “Anything Boys Can Do Girls Can Do Better”). Playing sports throughout my life, I’ve been surrounded by other strong, confident female athletes—tremendous leaders. I have also had the good fortune to have spent much of my career working with incredibly encouraging, supportive male leaders, peers and team members. I just never felt a distinct lack of parity.
With time, much more experience, and education, I have come to see what an isolated viewpoint that really was. This shifting perspective began many years ago, as my career progressed and I began to note the disproportionate number of men and women seated around the leadership tables I had joined. With curiosity came a desire to learn more about a very real societal problem. The bottom line is that the statistics are tough to ignore, the lack of balance that continues to exist is truly incredulous.
- Although women make up 47% of the workforce in both Canada and the US, the number of female CEOs at the Fortune 500 still sits at a mere 4.2%. That’s only 21 women.
- Globally, only 24% of women hold senior business roles, and only 22% of senior positions are occupied by women in the G7.
- Although strides certainly have been made politically, the number of women in the highest political offices around the world is a remarkably low 6.9%. (Of the 315 head of state or head of government positions, only 22 are held by women.)
Having recently joined the startup world, it’s clear the equality picture isn’t that much more inspiring here either.
- Only 7% of partners at the top 100 venture firms are women. That’s 54 of 755 partners.
- And a mere 2.7% of venture funding goes to female CEOs.
All that said, I’m confident that the landscape is changing, and the future is very bright. However, we still need to continue to shine a collective light on this very important issue, helping those around us understand just how vital initiatives like International Women’s Day really are.
Imagine this: Men and women, united, joining forces to ensure that our daughters and granddaughters will experience a more balanced social, political, cultural and economic world—one in which women will not be forced to pay attention to the disparity, or worse, experience it themselves.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BeBoldForChange. And at League, we’re definitely on board.
Why not join me, join all of us here at League, in supporting and celebrating women’s achievements and contributions? It can be as simple as driving the conversation—or as bold as taking steps each day to encourage and instil change.