How Workmates Are Celebrating International Women’s Day: 24 Hours of Perspectives and Reflection

Workmates across our global offices are making the most of International Women’s Day by hosting an event every hour for 24 hours, reflecting on the multidimensional aspect of the annual commemoration.

Despite its name, International Women’s Day isn’t just about women.

It’s also about building a diverse workforce.

And busting myths around generational misconceptions.

And so much more.

It’s an opportunity to call attention to important conversations about gender, equity, and diversity, all of which underpin the foundation of building a richer, more diverse workforce and society. It may sound like a tall order to do all of this on International Women’s Day, but Workmates across our global offices are making the most of the annual commemoration by hosting an event at one of our many offices every hour across the whole 24-hour day.

“It gives a lot more variety and a lot more depth to the day than just saying, ‘oh, it’s all about women,’ because it’s not,” says Esther Van Kirk, senior functional consultant and co-global liaison of Women @ Workday Employee Belonging Council (EBC). “Equity is about everybody.”

In fact, “Embrace Equity” is the 2023 theme for International Women’s Day.

For the 24-hour event, the Women @ Workday EBC, its chapters, other EBCs (what Workday calls our resource groups), and other employee-organized clubs at Workday are hosting programs each hour. Topics include women in tech leadership, gender equality and family planning, diversity in the LGBTQ+ workplace, and allyship.

“There’s not a single uniform issue that all women identify with, I believe,” says Richard Campitelli, senior vice president and Women @ Workday EBC executive sponsor. “And there are countless issues that I think impact women differently depending on where you live, your experiences, and your situation. So the idea that we can bring different regions and different perspectives, with different focus areas—that, to me, is really important.”

If the format—having an event every hour for 24 hours—sounds familiar, that’s the intention. The inspiration came, in part, from daylong telethons, which have been a staple of TV fundraising drives for years.

“The whole nostalgic thing around the telethons is that you always felt like you were contributing and you didn’t have to go out of your way to ensure that you were participating, because no matter what time of day, you were able to help,” says Kim Donohoe, principal program manager and co-global liaison of Women @ Workday EBC.

Van Kirk adds: “It’s one common cause, but everybody is working together to make sure that we cover all the hours. So it’s the nostalgia, but it’s also the teamwork that went in to get this done.”

That solidarity is what International Women’s Day, which has been observed for more than 100 years, is all about: coming together to bring attention to the achievements and contributions of women while continuing to advocate for gender parity.

“There are countless issues that I think impact women differently depending on where you live, your experiences, and your situation.”

Richard Campitelli Senior Vice President Women @ Workday EBC Executive Sponsor, Workday

“The mere fact that we have to reflect on the status of women in the world on one day is unfortunate, but I do think it’s an opportunity, so I want to take full advantage of that,” says Campitelli. “As a general statement, we have a lot of work to do as a society as it relates to women in the workforce, equality, and equity. So the idea of celebrating women on International Women’s Day is probably a misnomer. It’s recognizing and taking stock of what we have to do to get to a desired situation as a global community, not just as a company.”

The discussions during the International Women’s Day commemoration at Workday are meant to get people engaged and take action all year round.

“Hopefully, this event will show that people are volunteering, stepping up, and doing something, and that will inspire them to do it themselves,” Van Kirk says.

Here are a handful of the events that Workmates are hosting for International Women’s Day:

Thriving in the Workplace Instead of Surviving

Career advancement has often been described as climbing the corporate ladder, but for many women, the first step starts with a “broken rung.”. The term refers to the finding that women are not being promoted to managerial roles, a necessary growth opportunity in career advancement, at the same rate as men.

The broken rung continues to be a barrier in women’s careers, especially for women of color. The 2022 Women in the Workplace study, an annual report by and McKinsey, shared this: “For every 100 men who are promoted from entry level to manager, only 87 women are promoted, and only 82 women of color are promoted.” What’s more, other studies confirm that women face additional barriers as they age, such as being seen as “less warm.”

The career path for women of color is typically a longer road. But even though the statistics can feel daunting, the event hosted by Women @ Workday EBC working group Women of Color seeks to highlight career successes.

“We wanted to talk to a few women we felt are doing really well in their current careers and have definitely excelled,” says Liz Valadez, Workday chief of staff for product development and quality assurance and co-lead of Women of Color. “I think we often focus on the barriers and challenges of career advancement for women of color. But there are women of color who are more than surviving in their current or past roles. What have these women done that we can all learn from as we look at our career? We wanted to focus on thriving and not just merely surviving.”

“We want to talk about what professionalism actually looks like and means, and who determines it.”

Tina Bartlett-Game Senior Manager, Functional Consulting for Workday Success Plans Communications Lead, Black @ Workday, EMEA Chapter, Workday

The Importance of a Global View—and a Woman’s Perspective

Observing International Women’s Day was important to Alicia Taylor, workplace specialist and the Women @ Workday lead for the Australia chapter, because of the experiences she still sees for women all over the globe. “It makes it even more important to celebrate and recognize this day, and not just in a way that’s performative. I look at movements such as the protests in Iran: They’re still going on, and women are being arrested for trying to live freely. It’s important to be able to talk about those issues.”

She’s also passionate about fights closer to home, including organizations such as Share the Dignity, which provides menstrual products to anyone who can’t afford them. The group’s activism helped abolish Australia’s tax on tampons and sanitary products; it was officially removed in January 2019.

For Women @ Workday events in Australia, at Workday offices in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney, Taylor focuses on topics and themes that resonate with women in her country. On International Women’s Day, she’s facilitating a conversation with Workmate Jo-Anne Ruhl, who leads sales for Australia and New Zealand.

“She’s passionate about making sure conversations are being had and women are being heard. When women move up, you feel they can be in an ivory tower, and it’s hard to get time with them. Sales is so male-dominated, so it’s a good opportunity for women at Workday, and a good chance to ask a leader like Jo about her path and her role. The conversation might help women think about their own careers and internal mobility. She’s also a mother, so I want to ask her how she balances ambition, wanting to succeed, and being a mom. How does she view success in her role and in her life?”

Taylor wants the broader Workday community to know that the company has this group to support and uplift women. “Women @ Workday is showing up not only for women, but also other groups, such as Black @ Workday. I also want women to leave with the message that they don’t have to sacrifice anything to gain anything. You can be who you are and get what you want. Go for the role you want to do! Women can do anything.”

“There are women of color who are more than surviving in their current or past roles. What have these women done that we can all learn from as we look at our career?”

Liz Valadez Chief of Staff for Product Development and Quality Assurance Co-Lead of Women of Color, Workday

Is This Hair Professional Enough?

At an event last fall, former first lady Michelle Obama said she considered wearing her hair in braids during her White House tenure. Then as she considered the American people, she thought, “Nope, they’re not ready for it.” According to Washington Post reporter Jonathan Edwards: “Obama said her dilemma was an extreme example of the decisions Black women make daily to navigate the politics and sensibilities of their workplaces. They often find it easier, healthier, and safer to wear braids, dreadlocks, or Afros, but feel the pressure from white beauty standards and workplace norms to chemically straighten their hair for a more professional, ‘clean-cut’ appearance.”

Our Black @ Workday EBC is convening a panel to explore the issue of women’s hair, hairstyles, and what’s considered professional in the workplace, says Tina Bartlett-Game, senior manager, functional consulting for Workday Success Plans and communications lead for the EMEA chapter of Black @ Workday. “There have been some articles about this topic recently about what’s considered professional. As we move from a work-at-home world and back to the workplace, maybe some people embraced their natural hair during remote work and want to maintain that in the office. We want to talk about what professionalism actually looks like and means, and who determines it.”

The panel will expand the conversation to encompass other hairstyles, some of which are by choice, and the ramifications. “[Our Women @ Workday lead] Esther is joining as well to talk about having different-colored hair. Why isn’t pink hair considered professional?”

Equity is the broader theme for this year’s event, and the panel will explore that through hair. Bartlett-Game hopes the event promotes encouragement and support for anyone who decides they want to go back to their natural hair, or a hair color that’s a little less common. “Workday allows us to be ourselves. If that means you have plaited hair or braided hair, then fantastic. If the next week you show up with curly hair, that’s OK, too. Your personality and who you are is what’s most important.”

When Women Are People . . . and Corporations Are Not

The progressive U.S. journalist, activist, thinker, and feminist Gloria Steinem says the fight for women’s equality is closely linked to the fight for many other causes and freedoms. She says that there are historical, political, and practical reasons social movements are linked, and why our success depends on understanding those shared origins and goals.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Bay Area Women @ Workday chapter will watch Steinem’s speech, called “When Women Are People . . . and Corporations Are Not,” focusing on false divisions, speaking up for yourself, and being an advocate. Then, Sherry Bourzac, manager of customer advocacy and Women @ Workday Bay Area co-lead, will help facilitate a discussion.

“Your job isn’t your family,” says Bourzac. “But it’s an important part of your life, as is building up your own skill set. We can help each other achieve our individual goals. We can help each other gain confidence, make others feel empowered, and understand that there’s a vast network of people rooting for you. Leverage that, ask for help, and tap into that brain trust. It’s OK to ask for what you want, shout about your accomplishments, and share what you’ve learned.”

“No one reaches a goal single-handedly. For example, with kids, it takes a village. Well, it’s the same with your career,” says Bourzac.

The goal in jointly listening to and discussing Steinem’s speech is to promote and spark great conversations. “I want people to come out motivated, making new connections, inspiring more open conversations, and carrying on these conversations and ideas. I want people to walk away feeling their cup is filled.”

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