This year’s International Women’s Day on 8 March 2023 focuses on the theme of equity. But what is the difference between equality and equity? Enterprising Women co-chairs Jean Mountain and Eileen Perry MBE DL discuss this year’s theme, and the value of its message among the business community.
Throughout our time as co-chairs of Enterprising Women, we’ve spoken to hundreds of women across East Midlands Chamber’s network about the challenges they have overcome to achieve success in their job role, business or even personal life.
From not receiving recognition for the position you’re in, to balancing motherhood with full-time work and menopause in the workplace, we aim to start these conversations so women working within our community don’t feel so alone in these challenges and are inspired to see others who have overcome them.
With the International Women’s Day 2023 theme being #EmbraceEquity, it’s a good opportunity to consider what an equitable workplace looks like for women.
The difference between equality and equity
Equality seeks to give all individuals or groups of people the same resources or opportunities.
Equity, on the other hand, recognises that each person has different circumstances, which means that particular resources and opportunities are needed to reach an equal outcome.
With workplace equity, a business will seek to identify and acknowledge specific needs related to demographics, ensuring that decision-making fully considers the individual.
So while someone’s gender or ethnicity may be apparent at first sight, other points of difference may sit below for example, such as a disability or caring responsibilities, which are important to an individual’s identity and perhaps how they carry out their job.
The good news for businesses is that establishing an equitable and inclusive work environment should empower all employees to perform to their very best because they feel supported to succeed.
This year’s International Women’s Day is therefore encouraging society and businesses to take into account the diverse lived experiences of individuals and communities, and adapt services and policies around these differences.
BCC’s stark research findings on gender equity
It’s clear we have a long way to go. Research from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), of which East Midlands Chamber is its largest member, published this week found:
- Almost two-thirds (63%) of women felt they missed out on career progression as a result of childcare responsibilities
- More than eight in 10 (85%) women don’t believe there is sufficient support for people with caring responsibilities
- Almost two in five (38%) women feel they will miss out on career opportunities as a result of menopause
The BCC, which surveyed more than 4,100 people, has launched a three-point plan on “levelling up for women in the workplace”.
It includes short-term action to set up a Chamber Workplace Equity Commission, which would develop policies for Government and best practices for businesses enshrining equity in the workplace as part of its medium-term plan, and a long-term goal to move the dial on these findings.
How Enterprising Women helps to #EmbraceEquity
One of the ideas presented by the BCC is to collate case studies to complement research findings in order to bring to life what best practice and equitable business looks like.
An important part of what we do through the Enterprising Women network is tell stories and showcase success from women across the full career spectrum.
We also share the experiences of our members – be that through the awards programme or events – to support women across our community to not only learn new skills, but also to inspire employers to think differently around the support they have in place to create an inclusive workplace.
That’s why, on behalf of the Chamber team, we are delighted to back International Women’s Day 2023 in the hope it will encourage conversations around creating equitable opportunities for all within the workplace.
To get involved with the Enterprising Women network, visit www.emc-dnl.co.uk/enterprising-women.