4 tips for marking International Women’s Day
RAPP’s associate director of diversity strategy breaks down how to approach the important holiday on March 8.
How is your organization thinking about marking International Women’s Day (IWD) for 2022?
The holiday, celebrated each year on March 8, offers the opportunity to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women in the workplace and in society. It’s a crucial opportunity to engage as companies grapple with the loss of many talented women from the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some tips on how to think about addressing the special day in your messaging this year:
1. Make your message intersectional.
“In previous years, IWD was focused more on the achievements and “acceptable” aspects of identifying as a woman,” says Kyla M. Jones, associate director of diversity strategy with RAPP. “But this year, it’s important to keep deconstructing the societal, preconceived (Western) notions of what it means to be a woman, and becoming more action-oriented.”
She recommends asking:
- What can we collectively do to eliminate the gender pay gap?
- How can we address the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on working mothers?
- What other marginalized groups or experiences within the collective [of all women] do we still need to amplify and bring out of the margins?
- How are we acknowledging transgender women/experiences?
- How are we supporting women across seas/international waters?
- What actions should our allies take to further show and act on their support?
2. Focus on more than the top of the marketing funnel.
Brand messages for International Women’s Day are often focused on awareness. But, Jones recommends that brands think about bring those messages farther down the funnel where they can have more impact.
“Most brands amplify their messages at the top of the marketing funnel: TV, Social, Digital—but it’s important for brands to carry that same effort and impact down the funnel: Email, Direct Mail, In-store experience,” she says.
3. Avoid relying on solely celebratory messages.
When celebrating IWD, it’s important to consider the context. It’s been a particularly difficult couple of years for women who were hard hit by the restrictiveness of the pandemic era, shouldering more of the caretaking and homemaking responsibilities that clashed with remote work
“Consumers are hyper-sensitive and hyper-aware of how brands authentically champion common causes,’ says Jones. “The most common mistakes brands make are seasonal celebratory posts or mentions without providing education or action, as well as continuing to marginalize the experience of transgender women
To avoid a message that seems opportunistic, Jones recommends digging into the data and making sure you have a real investment to share.
“Consumers want brands to be more transparent in the direct actions they are taking to address the injustice and discrimination against all women by providing data and dollars on how the company/stakeholders are driving impact in the workplace, workforce, marketplace, and in the social space (i.e., communities),” she says.
4. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation.
Jones recommends having as many conversations as you can for International Women’s Day, giving space for employees to feel seen and heard. Hosting an “open and intimate” conversation with employees can be scary, but offers huge benefits.
“This creates a safe space for allies to hear and learn from employees who identify as women/womxn,” says Jones. “Companies can also bring in outside voices to further educate allies.”
One warning for these employee events: “Be mindful of ‘diversity fatigue’—where employees who share their personal experiences are not tokenized.”
There’s also value in creating spaces just for women in your workforce, where a closed-door conversation can allow for a different kind of connection between employees.
“There are certain topics, such as breastfeeding at work, fertility support, the PTSD women may experience being in a room of only non-POC men, and domestic abuse that require a safer space without allies,” Jones says.
How is your organization celebrating International Women’s Day? Please share with us in the comments.