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International Women’s Day 2021 | What Top Organizations Are Doing to Celebrate
I am proud to work for a company that is focused on creating opportunities for women leaders—especially given the recent data showing that one in four women is considering opting out of the workforce and that women’s participation in the workforce is slipping away to levels not seen since 1998. Our focus on advancing women has never been more important than it is now. As I reflect on my 14 years here at Linkage, I’m grateful for the support I’ve received in my career and realize that I’m fortunate to be in an environment surrounded by others who care as deeply as I do about this mission of advancing women.
In honor of International Women’s Day, I had the opportunity to connect with several of the amazing human resources and leadership development directors whom we work with to learn about the programming they have planned for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. These initiatives provide rich opportunities for discussion around critical topics—they create space for our leaders, teams and organizations to think bigger, and to envision not only what’s next, but what’s possible.
From monthlong initiatives filled with everything from executive panels to high-profile guest speakers, read on for an insider’s look at some of the exciting events underway at American Family, Corning, Lowe’s Companies, Oracle and McKesson, among others.
How Top Organizations Celebrate International Women’s Day
At American Family, numerous events will take place throughout the month in celebration of “Womxn’s Herstory Month,” including a weekly speaking series featuring inspiring, service-focused women as they share how they’ve perfected the power of the pivot to lead and stay empowered through periods of change. These talks are designed to foster learning, inspiration and joy, while intersecting D&I and provoking conversations that matter.
Other signature events include a keynote session with the 18th US Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin. As “America’s Doctor,” Dr. Benjamin oversaw the operational command of 6,500 uniformed public health officials from 2009–2013. In a one-on-one conversation, Dr. Benjamin will discuss the vital role of women in healthcare, their fight against a global pandemic, and her personal journey. Other events planned include a panel focused on achieving career success, a candid conversation about race, and a panel discussion featuring Latina women sharing their stories of success, in addition to networking and book club discussions.
CHS, the nation’s leading agribusiness cooperative, is committed to raising awareness about bias, acting for equality, and honoring the amazing women who make the agriculture field great. The Women in Leadership team at CHS works to support women leaders and their advancement in the workplace and is led by Amy Piersak, Market Intelligence Analyst, and Jeanette Portzer, Business Transformation Manager.
In recognition of International Women’s Day, CHS hosted a special virtual session for their women leaders, led by Maria Howard, Principal Consultant at Linkage.
The inspiring keynote brought together 270 women and allies at CHS. Maria guided the attendees through an exploration of the “Inner Critic” and the 7 hurdles to advancement for women in the workplace, and outlined key ways women leaders can scale the hurdles and ascend to new leadership heights.
Amy Piersak outlined key takeaways from the session with her followers on LinkedIn, sharing: “Maria’s message had so many points to connect to and one that stuck with me is reminding myself that I’m enough. There are days where I don’t believe in myself or I try to take on the weight of everything alone. Maybe some of that comes from my past of needing to overprove myself. Maybe some of it comes from having bounced around jobs and careers until I came to CHS Inc. – but I found my way here and I get to help support and lead other women and allies at CHS. Thank you to all who believed in me more than I did myself throughout this journey.”
WISE is Constellation Brands’ Business Resource Group (BRG) for women and their allies. The mission is to create impactful change in the business and community by elevating and advancing women through education and development, connection and community, ensuring that women are seen, and their voices heard. WISE supports these goals by providing engaging and relevant programming, partnership throughout the business, and inclusion. They are celebrating Women’s History Month by focusing on their global partnership with Dress for Success (DFS), a nonprofit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing support, professional attire, and development tools. WISE members and other Constellation employees give back to DFS beneficiaries by leading educational workshops, mentoring, and donation-matching drives. In partnership with WISE affiliate chapters, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, and ¡SALUD!, their Hispanic/Latinx BRG, there are multiple programs benefiting Dress for Success scheduled throughout March.
Internal events include Bare Your Boldness, which will feature a keynote speaker who will discuss using your voice, vulnerability, and vibe to be bold and make a difference in your life and career. In addition, WISE members will discuss Susan MacKenty Brady’s book Mastering Your Inner Critic with the author and other distinguished guests. And, WISE is partnering with Stellar Pride (their LGBQT+ BRG) and AASCEND (their Black/African American BRG) to host a virtual event focused on raising trans awareness and building allyship within the Constellation Brands family. They will also be hosting a broad conversation on transgender awareness, a panel discussion, and a Q&A session that will recognize the accomplishments and achievements of transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex lives (TGNCI).
The Women’s Partnership for Growth (CWPG) has grown to be Corning’s largest and most global Employee Resource Group with more than 25 chapters around the world. The group is dedicated to creating an environment in which all women at Corning have an opportunity to achieve their full career potential, by encouraging self-development, leadership skills, and outreach through an open forum. CWPG is hosting eight global events for all employees featuring several senior leaders, including female senior executives. Attendees will have the opportunity to partake in live discussions, Q&A, and virtual networking, and listen to a keynote address delivered by Anne Mullins, senior vice president and chief digital and information officer.
Throughout the month, Lowe’s Companies will be sharing stories in their newsroom about “Women Who Build.” Associates are also invited to contribute to a Virtual Gratitude Wall to recognize and highlight women making a difference at Lowe’s. The Women Empowered Business Resource Group (BRG) will share a video featuring female Lowe’s associates and allies from Canada, India, Shanghai and the US, sharing words of positivity to other women in the workforce. You can watch the video on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
Later in the month, the BRG will welcome guest speaker Rahaf Harfoush to discuss how the pandemic has led to burnout among women in the workplace and provide attendees with practical steps to thrive in these challenging times. Activities will conclude at the end of the month with a conversation designed specifically for women in Supply Chain. The dialogue will provide clarity to female leaders about leadership opportunities within Lowe’s and help attendees begin to map personal goals with what it will take to navigate and grow their career at Lowe’s.
At LPL Financial, the Women’s Employee Resource Group will host activities throughout the month designed to engage employees from across the organization. Some of the events will include a panel of female leaders sharing advice on their own leadership journey, a special session with guest speaker Ericka Spradley, and a weekly series, “Women Crush It Wednesday,” which will honor the accomplishments of women from across the organization.
LPL will leverage their internal social media platform to highlight weekly posts featuring interesting facts and ways women have made contributions. They also have a women business leader community that will engage in dialogue, sharing whom they admire or have learned from on their own leadership journey—and how they are contributing to advancing women.
McKesson will be hosting a session for all their locations globally featuring keynote speaker, Dr. Jen Welter, the first female to serve as an NFL coach. She’ll focus on how we can choose to challenge ourselves and achieve what others say is impossible.
Oracle Women’s Leadership is hosting events over a 24-hour period across the globe. All employees are invited to join, participate in, and celebrate International Women’s Day. Their “follow the sun” schedule of sessions features topics related to #choosetochallenge, such as the business case for diversity, reimagining leadership, data bias, breaking barriers, pledges and intersectionality. In addition, they will feature a speaker lineup of trailblazers to lead the learning and conversation, including UN Women, author Caroline Criado Perez, female entrepreneurs and Oracle leaders.
Oracle is also running a comprehensive internal and external communications campaign featuring a message from their CEO, a dedicated Slack channel for employees, an internal IWD website, and videos and articles from employees and leaders taking a pledge. This year, they are focusing employee activism for #choosetochallenge around six main pledges:
- I pledge to challenge inequality.
- I pledge to call out bias.
- I pledge to actively question stereotypes.
- I pledge to celebrate women’s achievements.
- I pledge to amplify voices not being heard.
- I pledge to broaden perceptions.
Additionally, Oracle is engaging with employees by creating and releasing assets for employees to use and share, including IWD visual graphics, Zoom backgrounds, social cards, email templates and pledge cards.
Synchrony’s Women’s History Month Celebration focuses on the power of unity and diversity—the 2021 theme is #UnitedWomenCan. Programming throughout the month is presented by Synchrony’s Women’s Network, whose mission is to advance all women in the company through programming and events that address the needs and topics of interest of their diverse global workforce. They kicked off the month with a discussion with leaders from across all of their Diversity Networks, to explore how to leverage diverse backgrounds to come together to empower and support one another.
To honor International Women’s Day, a companywide Townhall meeting will take place with special guests including Margaret Keane, Synchrony CEO, and Laurel Richie, Synchrony Board of Directors member and a former president of the Women’s National Basketball Association. They will discuss the importance of being unique, challenging stereotypical notions of gender, overcoming obstacles, pearls of wisdom and women’s empowerment. A variety of other activities are planned to bring women together, including everything from small group virtual lunches with senior leaders to career development sessions, a book club event and more.
US Bank is hosting a number of events for their employees, including one focused on celebrating resilience and progress, which will feature their CEO and several vice-chairs and senior leaders sharing stories of resilience and progress, both personally and professionally. They will also showcase signature efforts that contribute to their common goal of supporting the development and advancement of all women—employees, customers, and within the community. In addition, a History of Women in Finance webinar will focus on sharing a journey through female history in the financial industry, celebrating achievements from women in finance, and discussing barriers they hope to overcome in the future.
In addition, US Bank will host a three-day virtual wellness conference focused on mental, physical and financial wellness, as well as guided meditation practices that lead to mindful decision-making, both personally and professionally. And finally, a panel addressing the “Impact of COVID-19 on Women in the Workforce” will focus on everything from the effect of COVID-19 from an overall economic perspective to the personal impact, including how US Bank is managing the pandemic and resources for all employees.
So, now it’s your turn. We want to know: What is your organization doing to recognize International Women’s Day? Share your plans with us.
Linkage’s Women in Leadership Institute returns in 2021! Join us in person in Orlando, Florida, or attend virtually and experience a life-changing, transformational experience designed to empower women leaders to scale the high hurdles to advancement in the workplace.
Women in Leadership Institute™
NOV. 1–4, 2022 | Orlando, Florida, or Virtual
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