International Women’s Day is global celebration that resonates with me deeply. It is a time for empowering women and celebrating the diverse and astounding accomplishments of in all facets of their lives.
"I am a daughter, sister, wife, friend, cousin, grandmother, and a CEO"
International Women’s Day is significant because it creates a connectedness for women to contribute on all levels and in all our capacities. Significantly, it enhances economic empowerment for women across the globe. In both developed and developing nations worldwide, once women are economically strong they have the capacity to improve their lives in both financial and familial ways that are meaningful and measurable. If equitable opportunities are provided, healthy economies will flourish.
Evidently, when women are more educated and economically self-sufficient, families are healthier as well. Thus the question remains, how are we actively supporting this? How do we help the girls and boys in our communities to grow into economically powerful and self-sustaining people?
Consider these facts:
We know that companies who have more diversity in terms of female representation on their boards perform better and are better places to work. In fact, companies with the highest percentages of female Board Directors outperformed those with few women on their boards by 53% in Return on Equity, by 42% in Return on Sales, and by 66% in Return on Invested Capital. This improved performance is visible across all industries, from consumer discretionary to information technology.
Despite the proven success that diversity brings organizations, among 2,000 of the largest companies in the US, women make up only 28% of board members. Similarly, in Canada, reviews by Catalyst show that women only account for 15.9% of Board Directors in Canada’s 500 largest companies.
Whilw statistics clearly demonstrate that female representation on boards improves performance, the disparity still exists. This reality should make us all ask, why?
Why hasn’t the game changed in the last 20 years? How are we engaging with the issue? What actionable steps can we take to empower women economically?
- Women must stay engaged and remain in the game. Economic strength will not be handed to you; you must lean in and actively engage in your work to achieve success in your career. If you’re not sitting at the table, pull up a chair. If you’re not invited to the board meeting, knock on the door.
- Be transparent and engage in meaningful discourse. The channels of dialogue must be pushed and kept open so that we can speak openly about the existing disparity. Dialogue opens doors, and when these conversations are taking place, we can open each others’ eyes to new solutions.
- Lend a hand up to the women and men you know. I truly believe the words of Madeleine Albright, that “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women." Women in positions of influence are in an exceptionally strong position to actively change the game. Through mentorship, support associations, and reciprocal relationships, we can encourage and enhance the economic status and drive of young people to overcome disparities and achieve success in the business world.
We are on the precipice of great change and it is imperative to push forward on all levels. Be it in the home, workplace, or in public policy, the benefits of female economic empowerment are undeniable. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we challenge you to take these actionable steps toward empowerment!
Since 1980, founder, owner, and CEO of TPD, Leslie Meingast has grown TPD from a temporary staffing agency into a full service talent management and organizational performance firm. Leslie also plays an active role in many public, private, and not-for-profit organizations including:
- TPD | Board, Member
- Galt Foundation | Board, Chair
- Forum for International Trade and Training | Board, Vice Chair
- Women Presidents' Organization | Board Member, International
- GroYourBiz | Advisory Board Member
- Cartier Women's Initiative Awards | Jury Member
- Institute Corporate Directors | Member
- UnitedSucces | Full Founding Member
- WEConnect | Founding Member
Past affiliations include:
- Department of Foreign Affairs and International Development – SME Advisory Board | Ottawa, Canada | Board Member
- International Women’s Forum (IWF) | Washington, DC USA | Member