To celebrate International Women’s Day, Seramount hosted a webinar to both inspire its Diversity Best Practices members and provide practical tips and tools to empower individuals, employee resource groups, and communities striving for gender parity and equity in the workplace and in the broader community.
Dr. Shyama Venkateswar, Senior Director of Learning at Seramount, opened the event by providing a brief history about the origins of International Women’s Day. She acknowledged that while we reflect with pride on the hard work and accomplishments of people across genders who played an important role in shaping history, we must be very aware of the work that still needs to be done to achieve gender parity for all.
Dr. Venkateswar emphasized the importance of inclusion and intersectionality in achieving gender parity. She quoted LGBTQIA+ advocate Amber Leventry, saying: “including transgender and nonbinary folks on International Women’s Day does not take away from womanhood. In fact, it takes a stronger stance against sexism and patriarchy, and that’s the goal.” This quote provided a crucial perspective to International Women’s Day, reminding us that while we need to celebrate progress—violence, bias, discrimination, and harassment continue to affect women, transgender men, and nonbinary people daily across the world.
Dr. Venkateswar concluded her opening remarks by reminding attendees of this year’s International Women’s Day theme: #EmbraceEquity. This theme signals that equal opportunities are no longer enough. She asked that attendees lend their support to the young people taking the charge to disrupt patriarchies by protesting oppression, tyranny, and hierarchies.
The webinar featured three speakers: Tara Grammy, an actor, writer, producer, and an Iranian activist; Tandra Cheatham, head of pricing for the Americas and Under Armour, and chair of their Women Inspiring, Leader, and Living team resource group; and Penny Killow, global crisis and business continuity manager of Moody’s corporation. They each spoke about their own experiences in embracing equity through advocacy, community building, and workplace empowerment and support. Here are my takeaways from this powerful event:
In her keynote address, Iranian-born Tara Grammy spoke passionately about the spirit of International Women’s Day through the lens of Iranian women and encouraged attendees to lead with compassion to make positive change in the world. Grammy has been speaking out against Iran’s totalitarian regime and gender apartheid state since 2011 but feels hopeful for the future of her country. The rallying cry of the brave men and women of today’s uprising is “Zan. Zendegi. Azadi.” – Woman, Life, Freedom. Grammy expanded on this phrase, saying: “There is no life without freedom. There is no life without women.”
Grammy, in keeping with the idea of intersectionality, emphasized that this is not simply an Iranian issue or a women’s issue but a human rights issue. She went on to say: “Our superpower is compassion. If we allow ourselves, we can feel the pain of others….If we feel it, we can hold it, and if we can hold it, we can help heal it.”
With this mindset, Grammy has been able to see the impact of her activism for the women of Iran and encourages attendees to find a cause they believe in and use compassion to appeal to the humanity of others and drive meaningful, lasting change.
To Tandra Cheatham, working within our communities and supporting women and young girls to unlock their potential is crucial to embracing equity and cultivating opportunities. Under Armour’s Team Resource Group WILL (Women Inspiring, Leading, and Living) empowers and enables all Under Armour Women to aspire, inspire, lead, and live to achieve their highest potential. So, when Under Armour began conceptualizing and planning their International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month designs, WILL was heavily involved to ensure an authentic representation of what being a woman and an athlete means.
In the final designs, a few phrases came to the top, but “There is no limit” stuck out the most. This phrase means a lot to WILL members, who bring that mindset out into the community. That is why they volunteer with nonprofit organizations Girls on the Run and Girls Love Mail—to reach girls at a critical age, strengthening their confidence when society begins to tell them that they can’t. As Cheatham reiterated, “Now, more than ever, girls need to be accepted, inspired, and motivated.”
COMMUNICATION AND THE RIGHT SUPPORT ALLOWS A PERSON TO THRIVE
In Penny Killow’s experience making workplaces more supportive and inclusive, she found that we need to “age up to our aging workforce” and remove the taboo around menopause. At Moody’s corporation, they agreed and began the initiative to become a “menopause-friendly company” and were officially accredited as such by the end of 2022.
Along the way, Killow learned that an educated workforce, especially managers, makes for a safer and more comfortable workplace for anyone affected by menopause. At Moody’s, for example, management training includes profiles of menopausal people across different ages and symptoms to make it easier for employees, particularly younger people, to have conversations with better-educated managers. By being careful, open, and sharing, we can remove the anxiety and fear around menopause —in the workplace and in people’s everyday lives.
Killow’s final “call to arms” was a reminder that menopause is a natural phase of life that happens to people across a variety of ages. She encouraged attendees to look into their companies and see if they have a menopause policy and ask questions or start a project of their own. With the right support, symptoms can be managed and a person can thrive. She concluded by encouraging attendees, “Please help me blow away these myths and taboos around the menopause, and remember it doesn’t affect 50% of the population; it affects us all.”
Seramount’s International Women’s Day webinar exemplified why it is important to continue to work toward achieving true gender parity. At the foundation of International Women’s Day is a spirit of solidarity and allyship across genders and identities continuing to advance beyond our history of accomplishments toward equity. The speakers emphasized the need for courage and passion to step forward and make meaningful change in the world and take a stance against the patriarchy.
It was said many times during the webinar that women’s rights are human rights. Embracing equity for women does not take on one single, uniform cause—but instead encompasses a multitude of issues unique to our varying identities and passions. Intersectionality is what enables us to advocate for greater inclusion for all. Contact us to learn more about Seramount’s Diversity Best Practices membership