International Women’s Day is a tricky day. Not only because I identify as a woman, but because I’m a woman who has spent my entire career working to advance women’s rights.
In theory, I love the idea that we choose one day a year to celebrate “the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.” In practice, the realities that we are “celebrating” rather than, say, hiring, mentoring, investing in, and ensuring equal opportunities for women, given the inequities they still face, feels… a little off.
If we were to ask a group of women how a company could best celebrate them, and that company gave them a choice between free chocolate or enforcing child labor laws, which do you think they would choose? How about a pithy hashtag campaign around sharing women’s stories vs. being paid equally? Or giving money to a global non-profit working to increase the number of women in an industry vs. just hiring them? These are real examples of the ways globally-renowned brands are celebrating this year. Do you see what I mean?
While I most certainly can’t speak for all women, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I believe most of us want more, expect more, and deserve more from a day built on centering us. Because what I don’t want for IWD are good intentions, empty rhetoric, and finite commitments. I don’t want to be infantilized or commodified or used to propagate reductive campaigns and initiatives. I want companies to actually do the work. How about you?
I would love to see brands move from 24 hours of cursory campaigns to multi-year action plans rooted in systemic change. I would love to see well-meaning organizations and individuals share the specific ways they are ready and willing to do the deeper work required when working toward a more equitable world. And I would love to hear how you think we can do a better job of doing this too. Here at The Helm, we are democratizing access to capital for women founders and funders alike. We believe that by getting more women to the table and providing them with the tools they’ll need to invest, and then connecting them to the women founders who need that capital to launch and scale companies, we can change the world. This is work you can expect us to do not only on March 8 but the other 364 days a year.
It has been the privilege of my life to work alongside and champion women. Join us in celebrating and honoring them not just today but every day, and by telling us how we can better honor you.
Lindsey Taylor Wood is the Founder, CEO, and General Partner of The Helm