Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) is proud to support International Women's Day (IWD), March 8, a day devoted to celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political contributions of women. With robust female-focused initiatives and a longstanding history of empowering women leaders, EO upholds the mission of this global program every day. This year's IWD focus is #eachforequal, which recognizes that equality is not a women's issue--it's an economic issue. Equality between genders is good for business, great for communities, and essential for business growth.
We asked EO members--both men and women--for their insights on gender equality in the workplace. Here's what they shared:
In what specific ways are you supporting gender equality in your business?
"I run a tech company. Being a woman CEO, I've always felt a need to ensure our team's diversity. We have made a conscious choice to hire women and give them equal opportunities. I ensure that women are hired not because of their gender, but because they are qualified for the role.
"Once hired, I regularly meet with and coach our female employees, giving both personal and professional advice. I have seen women give up in their careers, mostly due to personal and family issues. Women need role models and pragmatic viewpoints. I speak at various local conferences and seminars. It was an honor when the top local university invited me to give a Tedx talk on Advancing Women in Leadership.
"My desire is to hear the words, 'I didn't give up because of you' or 'I had the inspiration to pursue my dreams and push myself because of you'."
? Anuja Parikh, EO Gujarat, CEO of Intech Systems
"Equal opportunity isn't a priority for us--it's a given. It's so ingrained in our culture that it's part of who we are. By building a team of people all aligned toward the same vision, we organically created a gender-neutral company. At the same time, we recognize that we still have a long way to go. I believe business leaders have a responsibility to take direct action to end gender disparity in the workplace, and for us, that includes our franchise owners. It took a while for us to realize how imbalanced our franchise system was, but we're focused on leveling the scales and showing how female franchise owners fit in our brands. We've recognized not only what is better for balance, but how balance is better for us all."
"I intentionally launched a 100-percent virtual agency to provide job flexibility for myself and our team. Workplace flexibility is no longer a 'nice to have.' It's something people expect--and it's particularly attractive to moms who want to continue their careers while having the flexibility to work from home and spend off-hours with family. We're empowering moms who wish to stay in the workforce: Our leadership team includes five moms."
? Megan Shroy, EO Columbus, founder and president of Approach Marketing
"In our company, gender equality is not just about creating opportunities for women. First and foremost, it's about connecting with women--women already interested and participating in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-related careers, as well as women and girls who have an interest in STEM. Toward that, we go to great lengths to recruit women. We also hold coding classes for underprivileged girls who are interested in computer science. The end goal is to create an environment where women of all backgrounds see STEM as a viable career option where they can flourish."
? Rachel Everett, EO DC, CEO of Viderity
Research from the British Chamber of Commerce finds that women are better at identifying gaps in the market, developing innovative products, and applying technology in their businesses. What unique characteristics do you believe women bring to business and to entrepreneurship?
"Women bring more diversity in thinking. The way women look at a problem is often different from how men may see it. There are specific, inherent qualities in women that make them effective leaders. These qualities include strong intuition, clarity in communication, an inclination toward collaboration, the power to nurture and, most importantly, empathy."
? Anuja Parikh, EO Gujarat
"I do not think that blanket statements like women are 'better' than men in specific areas are particularly helpful in advancing gender equality. As a woman, that's precisely the kind of statement that I'd hate to hear in reverse. Businesses are stronger and more effective when we value the multitude of experiences and skills each individual brings to the table."
? Erin M. Weaver, EO New Jersey, founder and CEO of Pennington Gray
"I am happy to report first-hand that a company with 55 percent female staff is a fun place to work. Our company has a great energy from a variety of emotional strengths, with different point of views, different healthy attitudes and with strong support for each other. We are convinced that this would be difficult to achieve if there were only men in our office!"
? Matteo Ghedini, EO Italy, CEO at Brera Serviced Apartments
"In my experience, great leaders believe in collaboration over conquest, are empathetic instead of judgmental and value teamwork over just one voice. I do think that women may possess these traits more readily when compared to their male counterparts, but I also know that as the workforce changes, so will the necessary leadership traits that it takes to guide it."
? Rachel Everett, EO DC