Every year, International Women’s Day asks people around the world to consider how they can help to forge a gender equal world.
This year’s theme, ‘An equal world is an enabled world’, reminds us that equality is something we are all responsible for. We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements.
As part of our celebrations for IWD, we asked a range of employees what equality means to them and how it can be fostered in the workplace, in our communities and at home. Here’s what we learned.
1Emily Guarino – Lead Business Affairs, European Originals, Amazon Studios
“For me, ‘Each for equal’ means ensuring we all play a part in bringing about a fairer society. We can all have a voice and strive to ensure all kinds of equality are attained.
“There have been so many social movements that have changed our lives for the better, such as the women’s right to vote, the civil rights movement, LGBT+ rights movement and, more recently, the climate change movement. That’s why I’m proud to act as co-lead for our IWD activity this year.
“Initiatives like IWD send a powerful message that change for the better is always possible and that equality is more easily achieved when we co-operate and collaborate.“My approach to championing equality is firstly to have an inclusive attitude towards my colleagues. I take time to know my team personally and ensure everybody’s voice is heard. We celebrate difference while also being mindful of our own biases and blind spots.
“I’ve always found that people perform better and are happier when they feel trusted and valued. Taking the time to understand a colleague’s wants, needs and aspirations is a huge part of that.”
2Kristin Ekerold – Head of Agency Development, Amazon Advertising
“As co-lead for IWD, I understand how we need to do our part for a fairer society. This year’s theme recognises our responsibility to ensure everybody is treated equally regardless of their background.
“In our connected society and globalised economy, the diversity of thought and background is astounding. In a city like London for example, that incredible diversity reminds us of the importance of equality every day. If everyone acknowledges the importance of what you can do individually, we will get there much quicker.
“I try to approach every situation and meeting with an open mind, welcoming different views and opinions, and relishing the challenge of having your own ideas tested or challenged. People work differently – we all have different needs and requirements – so we can get the best out of people by finding a way of working that suits individuals.”
3Tracey Markham - SVP, Country Manager, Audible
“This year’s theme articulates the personal responsibility I feel for my own thoughts and actions. It speaks to our need for collective responsibility and a drive to do more. And it reminds us to check our own internal biases and to understand that everybody sees the world through their own lens.
“I want to empower colleagues to have a voice in the workplace. In fact, having a broad spectrum of ideas and ways of thinking is integral to our work.
“I would always suggest that we listen, learn and act. Challenge yourself to question how many of your assumptions are based on your own personal history and experiences, and how much that shapes your worldview.”
4Jacqui Chin - Director, Baby & EU Programs, UK Retail Consumables
“This year’s theme means that all of us – everybody – should recognise our need to take action and do what we can to support equality in our work, families and friendships.
“Gender equality in our workplaces and across society is significantly better now than it was twenty years ago. My mother, grandmothers and great grandmothers certainly didn’t have the opportunities that I have today.
“However, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. We still have a long way to go, and this year’s theme reminds us that greater equality for one group of people does not necessarily mean equality for all. Individuals and organisations need to continuously take action so that we keep improving gender equality in the years ahead.
“My advice would be to ask lots of questions, really listen to the answers and be open to challenging your own views. Be respectful of different communication styles – if we adapt the way we communicate, we allow others to contribute.
“I try to encourage my teams to make any discussion a level playing field, regardless of specialism, experience or seniority. We’re a fully flexible team, with colleagues managing and working more effectively by accessing the flexibility they need. When you’re working across borders, time zones and working styles, an inclusive mindset is essential.”