IWD 2020: Fighting for Women's Equality at Work

March 11, 2020
Career Development

How can we fulfill the goals of International Women’s Day? What are the goals of International Women’s Day? Actually, how often do we talk about why IWD was created in the first place?

On March 8th, 1908, over 15,000 women marched in Manhattan for better pay, voting rights, an end to child labor, and shorter work hours. You might be surprised to learn the first National Women’s Day was celebrated eleven months later following a declaration from the Socialist Party of America.

For the next four years, numerous countries observed their versions of IWD and NWD until March 8th became the official day in 1914. But here we are, 106 years later, and women still aren’t treated like their male counterparts’ equals.


These stats blew our minds: Women complete 22 percent more projects but earn 26 percent less per project than men, women earn 11 percent less annually, and one out of three women surveyed have said they’ve experienced sexual harassment at work. Words like directed, painted, designed, managed, launched, and founded appeared in media coverage much more often when referring to men rather than women.

Agencies and brands know they must do better, and have prioritized diversity into workplace training and accountability, hiring, and career development. These initiatives tackle major areas, from gender to race to age to education-level. But there is a world of difference between diversity and inclusion.


“Diversity is being invited to the prom; inclusion is being asked to dance," says Hill Holliday CEO Karen Kaplan.

Emphasizing the ‘dance’ by closing pay gaps is how we can accomplish one particularly critical goal of IWD. Will that take legislation and regulation? One proposal is to publicize gender pay data with the help of the federal government to hold violators of wage equality accountable. We were thrilled to find out that gender pay gaps shrink when companies have to disclose their data! (And, to address a common argument from critics, this happens without negatively affecting a company’s costs.)

But women have advocates outside the political arena, too. Talking with other female professionals offers a haven to speak frankly about pay and company culture during the hiring process. That kind of transparency empowers women to decide if a company is right for them. These are also topics that can be discussed with recruiters. In fact, we encourage it!

Additionally, the 3% Movement is a collective of creatives whose mission is to change the present reality in which only three percent of women are creative directors, and even fewer are people of color. Advised by senior employees spanning companies like Havas, Omnicom, and Google, the 3% Movement hosts inclusion discussions and offers women opportunities to meet mentors. Mentorship is a game changer for negotiating higher salaries and navigating the complexities of entrenched workplace biases.


A century of progress doesn't mean that it's enough to stop now. International Women's Day is about celebrating women, and the best way to do that is to pay women and listen to them at the same rate as we do men. We toast to progress, but remember that this work isn't done until it’s equal opportunity and compensation for all.

Happy International Women's Day and Women's History Month