Today on March 8th, International Day of the Woman, our women-led office is closed. As the founder, I am encouraging all of our employees and partners to join the strike, to highlight the importance of an inclusive economy, a balance of representation in government, and the value of women in all seats within a company—from entry level positions to C suites and board positions.
We support the voices of all those speaking up for equality and equal representation, as well as equal opportunity for all.
Our hope is that this “Day Without Women” will highlight these most important issues. Just as women did in Iceland last year, leaving work two-thirds of the way through the day to make visible the pay inequities that were prevalent. Icelandic women were quite effective in demonstrating their case, making the point that women in aggregate earn only 2/3 of what their male counterparts earn.
In saying this, I am fully aware that being white and upper middle class, I am in a more privileged position than many women who have to face the injustice of working the same job for less pay. Partially, it is because I am able to speak out that I feel compelled to participate in this action on the International Day of the Woman. I encourage others to join in solidarity, to challenge the status quo, recognizing that having the ability to leave work (paid or unpaid), to speak out, or protest can be a privilege.
In addition to striking, Let’s use today to align our finances with our values of equality. Let’s work together today to make a financial statement—What if, instead of supporting the status quo, we move all of our money to support the advancement of women?
A few actions to consider:
We have purchasing power! And we need to use that power to disrupt “business as usual.” As recent reports show, women wield tremendous buying power in the U.S. economy—with some estimating that women are poised to control almost two-thirds of consumer spending—a sum that could be as high as $5 trillion dollars annually. When you consider our purchasing power, it’s clear that women can afford to flex our economic muscles by speaking out for more equity.
And our largest companies need to hear from us. While women make up 51% of the population, we make up only 44% of employees at S&P 500 companies and only 36% of mid-level managers. We occupy only 25% of senior-level management, fill fewer than 20% of board seats, and only 5.8% are CEOs (Catalyst.org 2017). In all of these positions, we statistically earn less than our male colleagues. In fact, only 9.5% of top earners are women.
With these statistics, it’s time to “check under the hood” as far as knowing more about where we purchase our consumer goods. Are we frequenting women–led businesses? Do these businesses have equal pay policies? What if we were all to shop only at vendors that employ and empower women, and offer a fair, living wage? Here, as an example, is a list of just a few of our favorite local, women-owned or women-led businesses.
Another significant action we can take during Women’s History Month, is to move our money; from our bank accounts to our retirement accounts, we can make sure our investments are aligned with and in service to our values of equality. Today is the perfect day to speak to our financial advisors about the value of women-led companies. In fact, what if we took time today to tell our financial managers and advisors that we are going to invest only in those companies that benefit women and girls—companies whose product or service is providing a solution to some of our biggest issues? Or, invest only in those that have a significant number of women in leadership? On International Women’s Day we can make history by bringing a gender lens to our finances.
I am a champion of women getting involved with their finances. By activating our spending dollars as well as our investment capital in alignment with our values, we will move the dial in significant and unprecedented ways. By collectively activating our dollars with a gender lens-- an approach anchored in strategy--we are sure to make an impact. Here’s to recognizing the power of women to speak out for change-- together we can do this!