Inspire Inclusion this International Women’s Day

Deborah Wilson

Women team members posing together

If you are anything like me, your LinkedIn feed and other channels you follow online are starting to be peppered with International Women’s Day (8 March) events.

The 2024 campaign them is ‘Inspire Inclusion’. The official International Women’s Day website reads:

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is Inspire Inclusion.

When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world.

And when women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment.

Collectively, let’s forge a more inclusive world for women.

Personally, I find International Women’s Day to be polarising, and I can understand why. Many feel as though dedicating just one day to a gender equal world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination tokenistic. I can understand and respect different views. Personally I feel having an annual awareness day where we celebrate women is positive. For the purposes of this article, when I refer to women, I am referring to those who identify as women.

Now is an exciting time for women in the workplace

Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying every workplace and every industry is on the cusp of true transformation. However, as a woman who is over 60 who has seen my fair share of things in the workplace, I’m encouraged by what’s possible for women in 2024 and beyond.

Real change takes time as we all know. We live in a complex world facing multiple crises, and while it’s easy to assume nothing is changing, here are some statistics sourced from the Australian Institute of Family Studies that indicate otherwise.

  •  In 2022, women comprised 48% of the total number of employed people compared to 36% in 1979
  •  According to data from 2022, it’s becoming more common for women to continue working until their late 50s or early 60s.
The elephant in the room

Some things cannot be changed, including the reality that some women choose to have children, which impacts their career on some level. Thankfully, we are seeing some encouraging changes around paid parental leave and companies offering more flexibility thanks to remote work, flexible hours and even childcare options.

If you happen to be reading this piece as a leader in a predominantly male-dominated company or environment, I challenge you to consider why you’re not attracting female talent. Diversity is important for environments where companies thrive, and top talent is retained. We must all change with the times.

Some further stats being:

  1. Gender Diversity in Leadership Roles: According to a report by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), women hold only 31.5% of key management positions in Australia. Despite women making up nearly 50% of the workforce, they are significantly underrepresented in leadership roles.
  2. Gender Pay Gap: On average, women in Australia earn around 13.4% less than men, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
  3. Representation in STEM Fields: Women remain underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, comprising only 16% of the total STEM workforce in Australia.I am sure you will all agree these stats need to change!
Passion and purpose are important driving factors

Having been in the workforce over an extended period of time, I’m so encouraged to see women showing an interest in what some may view as traditionally male-dominated careers and industries. I’m seeing more women learning trades and moving into coding. I firmly believe women can do and become anything they choose to. My firm belief is that aligning with our passion and purpose are what truly matter most. Not many people talk about this, but passion and purpose often changes over time. How can they not as we have different life experiences and evolve as people? People are unlikely to remain in one career throughout their lifetime these days. Jobs will arise in 3, 5 or 10 years that don’t even exist as I type this article.

My challenge for you

This International Women’s Day, if you’re a woman, I challenge you to consider what’s possible for you career-wise. Think big. Don’t limit yourself. Options will exist in 5, 10 or more years that we don’t even know about in 2024. As I find myself saying often, a title or role may be fleeting, but your career currency and skillset go with you regardless of where you find yourself in life and the workplace.

And if you don’t identify as a women, I encourage you to ask those around you what International Women’s Day means to them. If nothing else, I always feel as though awareness days are worthy conversation starters.

I hope you celebrate 2024 International Women’s Day in style.

Deborah Wilson is a Thought Leader and a Career Strategist. She takes a personalised approach to strategic career coaching and career transitions, mentoring and leadership development. Deborah provides expert guidance for individuals while supporting organisations through change and connecting people and purpose. Call Deborah on +61 403 779 746.

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