Employee Perspectives

International Women's Day: Commit to Progress

By Ellen Ryan Mardiks, Vice Chair

Today is International Women’s Day, a day of reflection, of celebration, of commitment to make progress.

Progress! Sometimes it’s big and loud and joyful as in the case of US Women’s Soccer, which captured the support of a nation in a “wait, what?” moment about equal pay. People understand the market dynamics that lead some athletes to earn more money than others. But when the US Soccer Federation compensates both a men’s and a women’s team, paying the men more than the world champion women doesn’t sit well with anyone. The team has taken their case to court but the court of public opinion has already decided.  Many advocates rallied for these women, including our clients at Luna. Proud.

Sometimes progress is subtle. Gentle, even. Take, for example, the beautiful work by Golin with our client Pure Leaf, which updates a few traditional fairy tales that, shall we say, presume girls and women should take it on the chin. I challenge you not to break a smile when our updated Rapunzel decides a pixie cut is just the thing and that nasty witch can take the elevator. This sweet campaign lands its message perfectly.

Sometimes progress is incremental. Step by step. At Golin, we’ve achieved gender parity on our Executive Board. In fact, a majority of leadership positions at Golin are held by women. The PR industry overall is seeing the same trend. This is meaningful progress, and we should allow ourselves to recognize and celebrate it… while we acknowledge that women of color aren’t yet fully participating in this progress.  That’s the next critical measure of our success.

Gender parity is slowly but surely becoming the new normal in the US. Is there more work to do? Of course. Here’s one thing we can do to help:  Let’s make sure marketing continues its push to have gender balance in the portrayals of business leaders, homemakers, volunteers, coaches, legislators. I have a request: Can we do that while not belittling men? I think we can, and I call on all of us to do so.

Final note: Today is International Women’s Day. The need for progress outside the Western world is profound. In many countries women literally are second class citizens. Let’s EACH commit to seeing these women, to hearing their voices, to advocating for them as they work to achieve full and EQUAL rights and opportunities all around the world.  On International Women’s Day 2021, let’s report real progress on that front. #EachforEqual