International Women’s Day presents an opportunity – a moment in time – to reflect on the issues facing women globally. The official theme of this year’s campaign is #EmbraceEquity. International Women’s Day calls on everyone to collectively work towards a world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Yesterday, I attended the Female Founders, Funders and Fortifiers session at the Genesis Centre. The panel chair took some time to describe the difference in equality and equity. While we live in a world of complexity, the simplicity of words matters. Equality means everyone is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity, on the other hand, recognizes each person has different circumstances. Equity allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
I like the simplicity of this description: “Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.”
The Case for Equity
I believe 365 days a year, society and business need to be intentional about ensuring and embracing equity.
Not only is it the right thing to do, but there is also a strong business case for creating more equitable organizations. Diversity, inclusion, and equity impact financial performance and are key values that drive a business. A McKinsey & Company study showed that companies in the top 25% for racial/ethnic and gender diversity were respectively 36% and 25% more likely to have superior financial returns.
Equity in Mentorship
Part of building equity is helping create opportunities for others and guiding them to realize their own success. In a business, that may mean professional opportunities and employment. Simply employing a person is not enough. When businesses invests in the professional development of their staff, you invest in their business success, and in their personal and professional fulfillment. In today’s competitive market this is essential to retain talent.
For Pilot, a professional services company, investing in our team also results in a higher quality of work for our clients, resulting in client retention by helping our clients reach and exceed their business goals.
A Network of Women
Barriers to women in leadership are real, unique, and diverse. Women-focused professional organizations and networking are keys to breaking down some of these barriers.
Years ago, in my early days in business, the Newfoundland & Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE), and more recently, the Women President’s Organization (WPO), were my lifeline to business success. The peer mentorship, often informal, helped me navigate the challenges that are presented in day-to-day business life.
Social connections drive opportunity and as women leaders, we have a responsibility to help create equity for those who deserve an opportunity to shine.
As business leaders, we need to join with diverse communities to bring and/or enhance much-needed change. We need to be a catalyst for widespread community change. We must be accountable for positive change, now more than ever.