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  • Writer's pictureTrish Driver

Why lovely pictures and social media posts won't cut it this #IWD

Wednesday 8th March marks International Women's Day 2023, and we can't help but approach it with a sense of tremendous weariness and exasperation. The past few weeks have seen story after story about violence against women, with the murder of Brianna Ghey, the racist attack against two young girls outside their school, and the ongoing saga of Andrew Tate. A report last year shared that 97% of women aged 18-24 had experienced sexual harassment, and only 4% of those affected reported it. 50% of women have experienced sexual harassment at work, and (as always) women who are at the intersection of multiple groups have a worse experience, with 70% of LGBT women experiencing some form of harassment at work.

The gender pay gap is still alive and kicking six years after reporting came into force in the UK, with progress badged as "dismally slow" by sector leaders in the UK, and a report from PWC estimating that we have around 130 years to wait before the gap is closed. And unsurprisingly, given the link between flexible working and a lack of career progression, women still shoulder around 60% more of the unpaid labour in the UK than their male counterparts, when it comes to cooking, cleaning and caring responsibilities. And with an ageing population, the proportion of us who are defined as "sandwich carers" (responsible for caring for both elderly relatives and young children) is only going to increase.

So yes, by all means, celebrate the amazing women in your life on International Women's Day, but as with all these events, it's really important to remember that one day a year with lovely photos and sentiments on social media will make not one iota of difference if we don't keep pushing for structural and systematic change.

As individuals that means challenging outdated stereotypes and tropes like the idea that "boys will be boys" to excuse poor behaviour, and educating ourselves to be much much better allies for the women who get marginalised even further for being at the intersection of a bunch of different groups.

As organisations we have to move much further forwards - there is no space to tolerate any kind harassment or discrimination of anyone in our workplaces. This is the absolute minimum we have to expect from ourselves, and sadly, we know that even this minimum isn't universally in place at the moment. Providing workspaces which are safe is a minimum, we need to go beyond this, and provide a true equality of experience, opportunity and voice.

Our research project aims to give a voice to everyone in the workplace, and to amplify the voices which are normally drowned out by the majority chorus. So if, as an organisation you aren't clear about how you're doing, or how your people feel about their workplace, then please encourage your people to participate in our research, and help us to make organisations everywhere more inclusive for everyone all year round.


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