Beyond March 8 : how to mobilise your company in favour of women’s rights?
March 8 is International Women’s Rights Day. We stress the word “rights” here, because more than a celebration, the 8th of March is a day for fighting. Fighting for equality between men and women, which is certainly progressing, but which is far from being achieved.
Within companies, the 8th of March is a time to question and assess the inequalities that persist in the workplace and within your company, and to commit concretely to upholding women’s rights. Making a difference on March 8 is great. Making a difference every day after is much better.
What commitments will you make on the 8th of March in favour of women’s rights? Here are a few things to think about!
Involve every team member in your gender equality journey
In a company, everyone is concerned by gender equality issues. The more employees you have involved in your approach, the more effective, ambitious and impactful your approach will be.
🕰️Do you set discussion times within your company on the topic of equality? Whether it is a formal or informal meeting, start by listening to team’s feelings, frustrations, concerns or suggestions. You can also conduct anonymous surveys. Interview both groups of women and groups of men.
🙋♀️Do you have an equality officer in your company? If they have concerns or suggestions, your employees will know who to turn to. This person can also be in charge of coordinating and implementing the various gender equality projects in your company.
✅Does management express its support for gender equality initiatives visibly and clearly? Make your commitment part of your company’s DNA on a daily basis.
🗳️Do you have a collective suggestion box? Anonymous and immediate, physical or digital, give free rein to your employees’ ideas.
Improving hiring practices
Inequalities are already present in the first stages of recruitment. Preconceived gender ideas often influence our perception of a candidate’s profile. How can we become aware of these biases and overcome them?
📚Do you train managers and recruiters in your company on gender stereotypes? Whether it’s asking intrusive questions on someone’s personal life or refusing a female application for a job perceived as “masculine”, training can help raise awareness, deconstruct and prevent gender bias in hiring practices. Gloria offers workshops to train teams to deconstruct gender stereotypes.
🤔Do you gender your job offers? If the person does not recognise herself or himself in the offer, they will find it difficult to project themselves and therefore to apply. For example, you could write: “Looking for a manager M/W” or “Looking for a salesperson M/W”.
📋Do you use recruitment tools such as job descriptions or interview grids? This will allow you to be more objective during interviews by prioritising skill analysis and mitigating bias.
💰Do you mention the job position’s salary and benefits on your job offers? Salary negotiations are one of the mechanisms through which gender pay inequalities come about. Not only do women on average have lower salary expectations than men, but they are also perceived differently from men when negotiating their salaries. By committing to pay transparency and setting a base pay level from the outset, women can adjust their pay expectations in an informed way.
Improving support for mothers and fathers
👨🍼Have you considered extending paternity leaves’ duration and compensation? Officially, paternity leave in France is 25 calendar days, of which 4 are compulsory, and is not compensated. Extending paternity leave within your company enables fathers to become more involved in parental tasks and mothers to facilitate their return to work. Compensating this leave means not penalising young parents who welcome their child together.
👏Does your company culture encourage fathers to get involved in their parenthood? For example, by communicating and promoting paternity leave or flexible working hours to manage parenting tasks.
🧸Do you offer childcare solutions to parents? Finding accessible and suitable childcare solutions is a pain and often involves professional sacrifices from the parents (especially for mothers). Have you considered implementing a company daycare or childcare support?
💻Do you encourage teleworking and hybrid working? Being a parent means dealing with the unexpected on a daily basis. But it also means wanting to spend quality time with your children. Teleworking makes it easier to reconcile professional and personal life.
Caring for the menstrual and mental health of your employees
Pain, absenteeism from work due to lack of period pads, developing infections by wearing tampons for too long, hiding your pad in your sleeve, using euphemisms, feeling ashamed of the stains on your jeans… Getting your period is no small matter.
🩸Have you considered implementing menstrual leave in your company? Almost 1 in 2 women suffer from painful periods. Some of them are forced to take paid leave every time the pain becomes too intense to continue working. Introducing menstrual leave means strengthening the relationship of trust and respect between the company and its employees. Beware, communication work is needed beforehand to encourage your menstruating employees to allow themselves this legitimate leave.
🎰Have you installed free sanitary protection dispensers in your offices? Menstruation is expensive. For some, it is a monthly cost that is covered without too much difficulty. For others, it is often a choice between one essential need and another. 1.8 million women in France find it difficult to obtain enough and quality sanitary products. You can fight menstrual poverty, for example, by making sanitary pads more easily available in your office toilets.
📆Have you considered implementing miscarriage leave? One in ten women has had a miscarriage – an often traumatic experience that remains taboo in France. Companies such as PwC, Critizr, L’Oréal and Kelloggs’ France have already introduced a scheme to provide time off work for bereaved women and men.
Fighting gender-based and sexual violence at work
In France, 80% of women are confronted with sexism at work, 1 woman in 3 has experienced sexual harassment at work (IFOP, 2018) and only 3 cases in 10 are reported to the employer.
👩🏫Do you raise awareness within your team about violence against women? Harassment, sexual assault or sexist behaviour: what is the difference? How should you react? How can you prevent such violence in your company?
Here are some training courses to raise awareness among your teams:
➡️Hally offers consulting services and training workshops to prevent gender-based violence at all levels within your company.
➡️Stand Up offers 10-minute or 1-hour training courses to learn how to react to street harassment
📇Do you clearly and visibly display the reference contacts for reporting a case of gender-based or sexual violence? Clearly communicate the email address, phone number or referral person to whom victims of violence can turn to.
⚖️Are you aware of your rights and obligations as a company? You can find out here.
Support NGOs fighting for women's rights on the ground
In the form of donations or skills sponsorship, you can support the efforts of associations that fight for the respect of women’s rights on a daily basis. On NooS, your employees can directly and concretely support the work of an association and direct your corporate donation. They can also donate their time as part of a skills sponsorship program to help women who need it. More information here!
A bonus: some quick and simple actions for the big day
➡️Organise a menstrual protection collection in collaboration with Règles Élémentaires.
➡️Organise a solidarity campaign. Through NooS, invite your entire community to vote for the projects most dear to them and support these projects on their behalf. Access a careful selection of non-profit projects with a measured impact. You can, for example
- support the professional integration of women living in extreme poverty in India with LP4Y
- contribute to the training and empowerment against gender-based violence in Ecuador with Paz y Desarrollo
- contribute to the development of sewing workshops to fight against menstrual poverty in East Africa with Freedom4Girls
➡️Organise a clothing collection with La Cravate Solidaire
Happy International Women’s Rights Day! May it be a day full of commitments for greater equality.