International Women’s Day 2023: Embrace equity

Relocate Global’s Think Women community convenes again this March at the Institute of Directors and online to celebrate women in the workplace, share and learn about what works for women.

International Women's Day portrait of united multi ethnic mixed age range women in business

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Building on the incredible momentum gained since Relocate Global launched its annual International Women’s Day (IWD) networking back in 2019, this year we will host two exclusive events – one virtual on Wednesday 8 March with NASA's Sarah Murray, and an in-person celebration of learning and practice with keynote speakers in the prestigous surroundings of the IoD in London on Friday 10 March, 'Inspiring Global Women for Growth'.Focused on IWD 2023 theme of 'embrace equity’, both will explore women’s roles in innovation and how companies are meeting women’s needs at every stage of their career.Our IWD events are an exciting opportunity to come together with leaders across international business and the global mobility community to accelerate the pace of change and drive equity. They will also help set the agenda for conversations and action throughout the year, including 2023's soon-to-be launched Relocate Think Global People annual awards, Future of Work Festival and Centre for Global Excellence and Leadership.

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Cultivating real change

IWD 2023’s call to ‘embrace equity’ is an important moment for us all to "willingly accept, adopt and espouse gender equity across wellbeing, employment, technology, sport and social leadership". Supporting the innovation and technology theme, is this year’s principal global International Women’s Day partner, John Deere, a world leader in providing advanced products, technology and services for customers whose work is revolutionising agriculture and construction.Toni Arnold-McFarland leads John Deere’s efforts to diversify science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) in the US. “The demand for STEM roles has outpaced the pipeline of STEM talent, so access to a quality STEM education is critical,” she said, commenting on the John Deere’s initiatives. “The company is making a difference and I’m proud to help lead our effort to build a diverse talent pipeline in STEM. We also want to centre the perspectives and lived experiences of diverse talent to drive innovation.”Relocate Global’s Think Women events online on 8 March and in person at the IoD on 10 March dovetail with IWD’s mission for women at work by “forging inclusive work cultures where women's careers thrive and their achievements are celebrated”.Deepening the impact of this IWD theme, the important role of women in STEM, the metaverse, global mobility, HR, talent and international management arenas, the live Relocate Global webinar with NASA and the International Space Station’s Education Trust’s (ISSET) Head of Operations Sarah Murray will explore space innovation and leadership.Our 'Inspiring Global Women for Growth' event on 10 March in the stunning Waterloo and Nash rooms of the IoD will then be a chance to meet inspiring women who are making a difference, hear stories from our keynote speakers and participate in valuable workshops so you too can create the ripples for change.

Challenging the status quo

The gender balance of attendees at this month’s Davos World Economic Forum gathering of global leaders highlighted the stark inequity in female representation at decision-making level, and why events like IWD and Relocate Global's actions have never been more important. WEF figures show that women accounted for just 27.5% of participants in the Annual Meeting 2023.Improving female representation at the WEF's influential annual event is something founder of 100 Women at Davos – an impact-driven group of women leaders established to improve global decision making and financial leadership – Dr Anino Emuwa, is campaigning hard to address. And with very good reason.“We are at a time where we are facing a global crisis,” said Dr Emuwa, who is also a member of the IoD's expert advisory group on diversity and inclusion and an action advisory board member of the Reykjavík Global Forum – Women Leaders in a recent interview with France24. “In fact, economists will call it permacrisis. And this is a time where we need to have all the talent aboard in order to help solve problems, particularly in leadership.“We’re coming out of COVID and haven’t sorted out the its effects yet. We’ve been dealing with the fallout from Afghanistan, also from Ukraine and a global recession. There are so many challenges that are facing the world right now. We need to have the best talent on board.“As a student of economics many years ago, I’d always heard about the World Economic Forum and I never imagined I would be invited to attend. But I did attend. And what I found in this conference centre with 2,500 people was that it was mainly men and not very many women. It was when another woman came up to me to speak to me and then you know there was a third.“We know the talent is obviously equally distributed between men and women. And not having sufficient representation means that we’re losing out on dealing with the challenges and problem solving.”

Women are trailblazers in technology and innovation

Shelley Zalis, CEO and founder of The Female Quotient pointed out the imbalance through another lens at the Reykjavik Global Forum for Women Leaders in November.“By 2040, the global auto industry will produce only electric cars. By 2050, the world is expected to fully eradicate Malaria. By 2069, every person on earth will have internet access. Why should it take 132 years to close the gender gap? And even longer to earn equal pay?”These issues are on the agenda at the WEF. But, without more women present, change will continue to happen at a glacial rate. For example, global consultancy McKinsey research discussed at the annual forum in January did highlight women’s role in technology – a critical sector for providing solutions to permacrisis. Its research showed that women “lead more metaverse-related initiatives at their organisations than their male peers.” Yet, while women spend more time visiting the virtual world, women occupy less than 10% of top jobs and attract only 5% of venture funding according to the World Economic Forum.

‘Women in leadership the foremost agenda’

In her address to the 100 Women at Davos welcome dinner this year, Anita Bhatia Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director, UN Women, summed up both the current gender imbalance and the urgency of addressing it. “Women’s leadership is the first and most important agenda. Women have solutions on every conflict that is affected by the world, and when there is less women economic empowerment, that equals less human capital value.”Fortunately, there are many valuable solutions that together can shift the dial on women’s representation in senior decision-making roles. These include around unconscious bias, and building communities and networks. Again, as Dr Anino Emuwa articulated: “What we see with the data it tells us that actually the perception of women as leaders is not very positive. In fact, the trend is downwards. So, we need to spotlight more women so that we normalise the fact that there are women as leaders in finance, in economies, in all fields and that it’s normal.“The second thing we need to do is to make sure that we bring them together. We find that when you have the power of community, when you have more women together, people get attuned and aligned to this because without realising it both men and women are biased because we are used to seeing power as being [in the hands of] men. So we need to normalise the image.“The other thing is access. We need to have access to the decisions that are being made behind closed doors. We need to get women into those rooms. We also need to get them into the informal networks, which is very often where contacts and appointments are made at senior level. It’s not about filling the application: it’s about the people who know you. What we’re doing is trying to create a workplace that is more attuned to women."

Global mobility communities and networks

The need to continue working to embrace equity in the workplace is clear. Pioneering communities like 100 Women in Davos and Relocate Global’s groundbreaking Think Women year-round network are fundamental to this. To understand more, connect and continue to help bring about change, in November Relocate Global Think Women community member Gina Lodge, CEO and founder of the World View Mentor – and one of the inspirational leaders we will be profiling in the lead up to IWD23 – attended the annual Reykjavik Global Forum for Women Leaders.“I first noticed the 100 Davos Women on LinkedIn,” explained Gina, understanding the vital role of community and networks in bringing about much-needed change. “Inspired by the reality around the gender-parity position and slow rate of change expected going forward, I contacted Dr Anino Emuwa, 100 Davos Women’s founder, to learn more."With her further inspiration, I joined the group and went to Iceland to join the team and the WPL (Women Political Leaders).” Although not attending this January's Davos WEF annual meeting in person – but hopefully next year – Gina has also been following the progress online at the Davos forum as UK co-chair of the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce. Along with colleagues, Gina will again be at Relocate Global's series of International Women's Day 2023 events as an inspirational leader to connect and help speed up the pace of change.Think Women 23 Intext NEW

Small changes, big impacts

In this spirit of leadership, collaboration, allyship, perspective centring and relationship building – including creating opportunities for coaching, mentoring and career development – we are encouraging guests at Relocate Global’s Think Women IWD 2023 celebration on 10 March at the IoD to invite the people who have inspired and supported them, and their rising stars.Says Fiona Murchie, Relocate Global’s managing editor and host for the event, “Women are still significantly underrepresented in international assignments, certain sectors like engineering and technology, and in senior leadership roles.“While there are signs this is slowly changing – for example with more flexible approaches to global mobility, career development, international and online education options – there is still so much more we can do as individuals, professionals and as a member of the Think Women community to innovate to deepen women’s impact and elevate our role in dealing with all of today's challenges. Some of these will be small adjustments, but action and awareness can have a truly significant and lasting impact.”

Why should I embrace equity?

As the WEF, 100 Women, the Reykjavik Global Forum and Relocate Global frequently report, everyone has a critical role to play in dealing with global challenges. There is a well-established business case that boards with a more representative and equitable balance of gender, people of colour and different backgrounds in senior leadership lead companies more effectively and perform better.How employers treat employees is also a critical factor in how companies perform. Deepening skills shortages and legislative changes – like on the gender pay gap and ESG reporting – mean organisations are continually looking at how they achieve their purpose. For many, this means looking at their diversity, equity and inclusion practices.Events like International Women’s Day and year-round communities like Think Women are therefore vital for heightening awareness and connecting with new ideas, influences and people that make a real difference.This year’s International Women’s Day is another chance to make changes and boost momentum to keep pace with these times of rapid change. Join us and the Think Women global community to hear from inspirational speakers, participate in workshops and training, and make valuable connections to support you to make a difference.Sarah Murray live stream IWD 23 intext

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