Colleagues from Brandzeichen in Duesseldorf celebrating International Women’s Day.
Yesterday was International Women’s Day (IWD), a day initially launched in 1909 in the U.S. and adopted by the United Nations to commemorate the U.S. women garment workers’ strike in 1908, which was staged to draw attention to unfair and unsafe working conditions for women. The movement was triggered by a fire that killed many women working for unfair wages in unsafe conditions in the industry. Since the early 1990s, International Women’s Day has been widely recognized globally by businesses, governments and nonprofit organizations.
The disparity between opportunities for men and women globally still exists in 2016. It takes place in different forms, in the U.S. we focus heavily on salary inequity. In other parts of the world, the disparity starts earlier on and the gap is greater – girls, for example, may be denied or challenged to obtain an equal education to boys, or women in some cases are considered the property of their fathers and then their husbands.
I have long been committed to drawing attention to gender parity issues, and I am grateful that Ketchum and our parent company Omnicom is like-minded on the topic.
Yesterday at Ketchum and other Omnicom agencies across the world, we took time to focus discussions on gender parity issues and in line with this year’s #PledgeForParity IWD theme, we talked about actions we can take as individuals, in our teams and as a whole to help advance progress.
I hosted a breakfast first thing yesterday morning in our New York headquarters that was attended by a dozen colleagues from different areas of Ketchum and ranging in position from administrative assistant to SVP/Director. We had a rich and lively discussion on everything from women who inspire us to take on the issue of gender equality (answers ranged from participants mothers to Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Jennifer Lawrence) to how each of us, in our own ways, can help stem gender bias and try to level the playing field.
Here is a roundup of the engaging discussions and pledges for parity that our colleagues made around the world (click to tweet):
ATLANTA: Colleagues agreed to champion effective female leadership after hearing about one executive’s professional path.
DALLAS: Ketchmites were inspired by the open dialogue fostered at the office on International Women’s Day and pledged to speak and support one another more aggressively.
DUBAI: Colleagues created a fantastic video to #PledgeForParity on International Women’s Day.
HONG KONG: Men and women came together in our Hong Kong office and took a deep dive into cultural norms, agreeing that mentorship and helping instill a more inclusive environment will help narrow the gap on gender disparity in their communities.
LONDON: Participating in the OmniWomen event in the U.K., Ketchum colleagues pledged to look at each situation through a fresh lens, in order to avoid inadvertent bias.
MADRID: Our colleagues launched a social media campaign (#Biznietadel2133) focused on the year 2133 when the World Economic Forum estimates there will be gender parity, to call attention to the current disparity.
MUMBAI: Colleagues celebrated women’s achievements in the office and supported a local organization that helps change perceptions of marginalized people and give them an opportunity to excel.
NEW DELHI: Colleagues gathered for a #PledgeForParity group discussion on International Women’s Day.
NEW YORK: Colleagues pledged to reevaluate their personal style, how they communicate and how they advocate for themselves and others.
NEW YORK: Attendees were passionate about helping women and girls get the opportunity to grown and eventually lead in the PR industry, and are commitment to furthering the discussion.
NEW YORK: Colleagues from Access Emanate celebrated International Women’s Day and discussed the progress that has been made, as well as the need for more progress.
NEW YORK: As colleagues from Capstrat shared their personal experiences with gender bias, a pledge was made to have these discussions regularly in order to collectively make strides towards gender parity in all aspects of their lives.
PUNE: Colleagues from our Pune office are all smiles as the #PledgeForParity on International Women’s Day.
SEOUL: Participants in an office-wide lunch discussed steps they could take at home and in the industry to be more supportive and inclusive and committed to continuing to foster a flexible culture that allows all employees to thrive.
TORONTO: Our colleagues in Canada took the opportunity to explore their own lives and relationships and look for ways to shift paradigms at home and in the office.
VIENNA: Team members in Vienna celebrating International Women’s Day with colleagues.
WASHINGTON D.C.: Participants discussed the importance of flexing time to allow everyone to pursue their personal interests and meet personal obligations as an important aspect of achieving equality.
Barri Rafferty is Ketchum’s former CEO and current head of communications at Wells Fargo.
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