Women’s Equality Day 2023: Impacts of Female Leadership
By Sam Aurilia, Account Director Touchdown PR US
Celebrating the legacy of Women’s Equality Day
In 1973, with the support of U.S. president Richard Nixon, Congress approved a resolution deeming August 26th Women’s Equality Day. The date was chosen to commemorate the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, which granted cis white women across the United States the right to vote for any man of their choosing.
How has women’s equality been acknowledged since?
So much has changed in the U.S. since ‘women got the vote.’ For example, Black women also got the vote. And even more has changed for ladies since 1973. For example, in the US we lost the right to abortion. And since the 70s, each president has graciously taken it upon his male shoulders to follow in the footsteps of feminist icon Richard Nixon by proclaiming August 26th as Women’s Equality Day.
This year, female Touchdown employees even have the day off! Male and nonbinary employees also have the day off. We can’t have only the women out of office – we make up 72.5 percent of this global company! Besides, August 26th is a Saturday.
Jokes aside, and to paint the picture a bit more clearly, the early 1970s marked a crucial time for second wave feminism across the globe and in the United States in particular. Women were hard at work trying and failing to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Others were striking for equal opportunity in the workplace and free childcare. In fact, it was these strikes that partially compelled Nixon to proclaim the holiday in the first place. And while it is valid to point out Nixon’s proclamation as a public relations stunt, the day has become an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the strides American women continue to make every day.
It is at this point I feel compelled to recognize that this blog post is also a PR move. But while many may rightly question Nixon’s commitment to women’s issues, I don’t think many would question Touchdown’s emphasis on showing up for equality and diversity in PR.
With that in mind, this Women’s Equality Day, let’s take the time to examine just how far we’ve come and how far we still must go.
Why is equality in leadership important?
Equality in leadership is vital for a whole host of different reasons, and the specific benefits of giving women fair opportunities to progress will have a ripple effect of positivity across an entire corporate structure.
Representation & diversity
From bringing new perspectives to the table, to fostering creativity and inclusivity when it comes to making important decisions, balancing the split between men and women in key roles encourages an environment that is shaped by the way we show up for inclusivity and diversity – two values that are hugely influential in the modern world.
Creating role models
Giving women access to leadership roles also serves to create role model figures, and this is essential for setting the foundations of continuous progress. These inspirational figures pave the way for new generations of inspirational women, helping to keep the original message of deconstructing gender stereotypes and achieving equality at the forefront.
Women in leadership: the current corporate landscape
The business case for supporting women in their aim to introduce equality in leadership in the workplace is clear.
Women in leadership statistics
When the Peterson Institute for International Economics completed a survey of 21,980 firms from 91 countries, they found that having women at the C-Suite level significantly increases net margins. Additional research has shown that UK companies with more women on executive boards outperform on profits. Taking these concepts even further, studies conducted at the University of Arizona found that companies that have women in top management roles experience ‘innovation intensity,’ producing an average of 20 percent more patents than teams with male leaders.
The numbers behind these women in leadership statistics don’t lie. Turns out the gender responsible for inventions like word processors, computer algorithms, WiFi and beer can offer tangible value to the corporate workforce. Supporting women’s equality in leadership is not only the ‘right thing to do,’ it’s the profitable thing to do.
Congrats, ladies! We did it! We showed up with cold, hard numbers and solved feminism! As someone who struggled with math all throughout school (typical woman, am I right?), it’s like numbers finally can’t hurt me. So let’s look at some more:
– 37 percent of women in leadership roles have had a coworker get credit for their idea, compared to 27 percent of men leaders.
– 38 percent of Black women leaders experienced “being mistaken for someone at a lower level” compared to 26 percent for all women and 13 percent for all men.
– For every 100 men who are promoted from entry-level roles to manager positions, only 87 women are promoted, and only 82 women of color are promoted.
Increasing women’s participation in leadership: success stories
We don’t make it easy to support women in leadership roles, especially trans women and women of color. But this fact only makes increasing women’s participation in leadership a continuous goal, and we should certainly celebrate collective wins.
2023 was a landmark year for female CEOs. As of January, for the first time in Fortune’s 68-year history, more than 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies are led by women. That’s a big deal – I don’t even have to write out that numeric figure anymore. (Does anyone else appreciate AP style humour?) Three of those women are women of color. And while that falls into the “if the number is under 10, write it out” rule, that stat is still technically an improvement on previous years.
The advancement of black women in power
From Madame C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire, to Rihanna, the youngest American self-made, female billionaire, Black women have a long history of raising the bar for women in business. To add to the list of firsts, RJ White recently made history as the youngest woman owner of a pro level men’s basketball team.
According to research from ProjectDiane, before 2021 only 93 Black female founders had raised $1 million or more in venture capital. The number prior to 2018 was even smaller, with only 34 having done so. Since 2021 that number is steadily increasing, with 71 Black women having raised over $1 million in the last two and a half years. We can do better. But in the meantime, read up on these fabulous women here.
Equality in leadership: Opportunities for trans women
Though there are fewer openly trans founders, trans women have also achieved a level of success in the past few years. Coty Inc.’s Sue Nabi, for example, is one of two openly transgender CEOs to run major U.S. public companies. And after Coty’s 10th consecutive quarter of growth, the company recently decided to extend her contract through 2030. Under Nabi’s tenure, Coty’s market capitalization has quadrupled since her appointment in 2020. And women on the investment side have also made a point of supporting their corporate colleagues.
For example, in 2011 Natalia Oberti Noguera founded Pipeline Angels an angel investment firm dedicated to creating funding for trans women, cis women, nonbinary, two-spirit, agender, and gender-nonconforming founders.
Women in leadership roles: shaping the law
Women are also making strides politically across the globe. In the U.S. the current 118th Congress has a record number of women. And in the U.K. the number of female MPs has reached a record high of 34 percent. When commenting on the 2023 edition of the IPU-UN Women Map of Women in Politics, IPU Secretary General, Martin Chungong, said: “We’re seeing ongoing progress in the number of women in politics this year, which is encouraging,” also noting that we still have “we still have a long way to go to reach gender equality when we see the current rates of growth.”
Beyond Women’s Equality Day: Paving the way for equality in leadership
While we celebrate all the trailblazers and record breakers mentioned above, we need to examine what we can do immediately to support women in the workforce. Because the reality is, women are leaving their jobs in record numbers.
What is sometimes referred to by some as “The Great Breakup,” women are leaving their positions for other opportunities where they can have their needs met. And a lot of those needs aren’t too difficult to address.
How can businesses encourage women to pursue leadership roles?
There are plenty of ways that corporate environments can support women to progress through business ranks. Creating workplaces that promote flexibility, for example, is key for women’s success. Balancing family responsibilities and demanding leadership roles remains a challenge for many women. Flexible work arrangements, supportive policies, and inclusive company cultures (like that of Touchdown’s) can help alleviate these challenges.
Beyond that, creating paths for women to succeed through mentorship and clear advancement opportunities can make or break a woman’s experience at work. According to LeanIn.Org CEO Rachel Thomas, “Young women are looking up at the women leaders in their company and it doesn’t look good. Two-thirds of women under 30 say they would be more interested in advancing if they saw leaders with the work-life balance they want.”
We’re proud to champion equality in leadership
At Touchdown PR, our team strives to create an environment where women are inspiring our teams daily, and celebrated daily, not just on Women’s Equality Day! Just take a look at our team to learn more about some of the incredible women leading the charge.