Women’s History Month

Yesterday was International Women’s Day – a date that celebrates social, economic and political achievements of women and marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. The theme for this year is #BreakTheBias.

To give us some context, how many of us in this room were born before 1988? Until that year, women often could not apply for a business bank loan without a male relative co-signing the loan.

In the 40 years following passage of laws providing women direct access to credit, the number of women-owned businesses increased from 402,000 to nearly 13 million and generated $1.8 trillion in revenue.

But these numbers don’t really describe the whole picture.

We can look at the vast diversity – of experience, of perspective, of businesses – of our female members and guests. We have female owners of successful businesses in health & wellness, communications, arts & design, and global development. Women on their 2nd or 3rd careers. Directors leading and inspiring their teams at large national and global companies. And founders of newly launched startups.

But how do we talk about those great achievements for women in business for example, while also acknowledging that we do, in fact, still face bias?

We can talk about pay gaps and parity in C-Suite representation. But what does #BreakTheBias look like on a day-to-day basis?

Assumptions women with children are less committed to work and thus more frequently passed over for promotions;
Assumptions that women without children have no problem with frequent overtime or working on weekends;
Performance reviews with vague feedback unrelated to work performance;
Disrespectful behavior like being interrupted in meetings or someone repeating the exact point you just made;
VCs questioning male startup up founders about growth strategy while questioning female founders about risk management.

So, what can we all do to #BreakTheBias?

1. Foster diverse teams & solicit varied opinions
2. Normalize parental leave polices for both men & women
3. Don’t make assumptions about anyone

Now it’s your turn: What else can you think to do to #BreakTheBias and make an impact in your workplace?

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