Reviewing International Women’s Day: Lessons for Brands Contributing to the ConversationCategory

Upon reflection of International Women’s Day 2022, where the #BreakTheBias hashtag demand was shared 440,000 times on Instagram alone, Talk Shop has developed some best practices to share with brands, organizations, and individuals that are looking to recognize important days, such as International Women’s Day, in a sincere - and impactful - way.

Conduct Credible Research

Before you do anything, do your research. It is up to individuals to do the research and learn. Determine the root source of authority on the matter. There is usually an official website, with clear credentials and sources, that is there for you to learn from and reference. Learn the history, understand the cause and study the language being used. We also recommend using resources that are centred around university research with credible peer-reviewed sources. Social media should be your last place of research. See bottom of this post for our recommended resources.

Action over Sentiment

We often say that in PR, there is no room for speculation. If it hasn’t happened or isn’t currently happening, it is not news. When a movement is sweeping the world and you haven’t taken action to contribute to the movement’s cause, you should not be posting about it. Action can look like creating a safe place for people to share, post, converse, and learn. Not an expert? Hire one. Hire a BIPOC business person or a certified EDI consultant and allow them to respectfully navigate the space you are creating.

We Discourage: Happy International Women’s Day! You go girls!

We Encourage: In recognition of #IWD2022, and to share steps that we are taking to #BreakTheBias, I want to showcase our company’s new Compensation Equity Policy that is being rolled out now.

Understand the Ask

Determine if there is a unifying ask. For example, after researching it, you should understand that International Women’s Day is not like Mother’s Day. It is not just a celebration of all that women do in the world. It is not only about thanking women for their contribution to society. It is about taking steps toward a world free from bias and stereotypes. In most cases, the ask is around raising funds, changing policy or putting social pressure on outdated and inequitable social realities. If there is an ask – answer it before you share or post about the matter. Donate to the cause, show your support through your action.

We Discourage: It’s #IWD2022 so here are the 7 females that work at our Headquarters. They are great.

We Encourage: Today, on #IWD, we want to recognize that discrimination based on gender sex is still a reality in the workplace in Canada. In order to combat this, our company now has a commitment to reach full gender pay parity by April 2023.

Remain Open

We know you are well intentioned; we understand that you are attempting to do your part to make positive changes, however, contributing to the conversation may leave you vulnerable to correction and criticism, and that’s okay. Sometimes contributions don’t land properly. We advise that you remain open to feedback and prepared for further conversation once you contribute to a movement. Consider assembling a working group in advance of contribution to move through the conversation so you aren’t acting alone and you are hearing important voices before you respond. For instance, we advise that when you are communicating around BIPOC and LGBTQIAS+ subjects that you refrain from asking only the opinions of your friends and employees that identify as such. A BIPOC individual does not speak for all people of color, and a LGBTQIA2S+ person does not speak for all orientations and genders that reside in the LGBTQIA2S+ space.

Admit Defeat – Commit to Change

Last week, many companies in the UK that joined the #IWD Conversation found themselves on the hook to explain themselves. A Twitter Bot was picking up any brand that used the hashtag and then calling out the pay disparity between women and men.

Yes, it was hilarious. Yes, it was humiliating. But it provided a great opportunity for many brands to respond in the right way, as Capita plc did.

Our advice in a situation such as this is to do as Capita plc did. This is not a time for excuses, this is a time to admit defeat. Admit defeat, and in the same breath, commit to change. Enlist the help of your working group that you should, hopefully, have assembled and create a plan for action. Action, however spurred on, is action. This is how change happens. This is how we can #BreakTheBias.

Credible Resources for your Research

Government of Canada: Equity, diversity, and inclusion resources here

University of Waterloo: Evaluating informational resources – here

UBC: Commitment to EDI within the Canadian Research Chair Program – here