From well-known trailblazers to unsung heroes, Women’s History Month is dedicated to honoring the women who have paved the path toward change and their collective contributions to our society. This month is an opportunity to reflect on the role of women in history who strived for equal rights, fairness and progress. In observance of this special month, we asked our Women’s Employee Resource group, what is the best way to take action for equality?
“When I heard the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, I was instantly energized! Simply put, “Choose to Challenge.” We must continue to challenge both gender bias and ourselves to seek out and elevate the message of those who are supporting change. I encourage everyone to #ChoosetoChallenge! By taking a moment to challenge ourselves from within, as well as those around us, we all grow and have the power to generate change.”
Jessica Smith, NCIDQ
Senior Interior Designer
“I once heard a speaker talk about how women are “over mentored and under sponsored.” This resonated with me as an issue that extends beyond women. It makes me think about everyone who I am mentoring and whether I’m doing all I can do to sponsor them. What good is talking to someone about their aspiration if we don’t help them reach their goal? Seeking specific opportunities to support the people we mentor is a huge leap—one that we can all hold ourselves accountable for taking.”
Market Vice President
“On a personal level, a subtle but effective action for equality is to admit one’s own biases and question them. It takes bravery to confront someone for their prejudicial thoughts or actions, but it’s much more powerful to confront your own prejudice and preconceptions. It is impossible to live without bias but, with practice, we can question the root of our prejudices and, hopefully, eradicate them. We can take this a step further by vocalizing our own past errors. When we admit our own prejudice, it may influence others to question their own bias. By eliminating biases, we lay the groundwork for equality.
On a larger level, improving education, and the equity thereof, will likely be the only way we can achieve equality. Although the U.S. is one of the few countries that offer public education, there are vast differences in the quality of education, as well as curriculum and lessons taught. We need to take steps to ensure that all members of our society have access to quality education and are given the tools to succeed in learning, even if that means making personalized accommodations.
It’s also important that diversity be taught and celebrated inside the classrooms. It wasn’t until the late 70s and 80s that Black, Hispanic and Women’s History began being implemented into public education initiatives, and even now, they are not implemented everywhere. By filling our minds with the cultures and histories of others, we leave less room for inaccurate prejudices to seep in.”
Environmental Graphic Designer
“I think the best way to take action for equality is to have open and honest conversations about gender bias in the workplace. As women, we wear many hats when it comes to our professional personas. We want to be strong-willed, but flexible; gracious but stern; friendly and accommodating, but not a push over. It’s all a balancing act. By harboring an inclusive environment where women are encouraged to speak their minds, share their opinions and be the best versions of themselves, it breaks down barriers for ALL employees.”
“Men and boys need to be included in the conversation about equality and be change advocates for themselves and others around them. As said Emma Watson said in her 2014 address to the UN: “Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be freer.”
I believe that creating conversations that are inclusive to all is the first step in creating change and equality. Gender equality is, as the name implies, wanting equality for all genders. This does not mean that we should believe that men are bad and women are good, which is how feminism is so often labeled. Instead, we should encourage and embrace people for who they are and the strengths and weaknesses they possess.
The HeforShe movement is a fantastic organization that encourages these conversations personally, professionally and from a corporate setting. Companies that are part of this initiative actively raise awareness of, and commitment to, gender equality and, in turn, make their employee’s proud to be part of an inclusive company.”
Zoë Fisher, AIA
“Adopt an intersectional approach in all aspects of your life. Remember that all forms of oppression are connected. You cannot fight against one form of injustice and not fight against others.”
Human Resources Employee Advocate
“One word keeps resonating in my brain – KINDNESS. Kindness is free! It costs so little and yields so much. There is so much that I’m still learning about equality, and it takes having conversations on both sides. If we can just remember to listen intently, try to understand the other person’s point of view and be kind, I believe we will go much farther in developing equality.
To echo the words of Mahatma Gandhi: ‘The simplest acts of kindness are far more powerful than a thousand head bowing in prayer.'”
Senior Administrative Assistant