International Women’s Day: Ideas to celebrate at workplace in 2020

An annual celebration, the International Women’s Day (IWD) is marked on March 08 every day. Falling on Sunday this year, it is an occasion to remember the belief that “an equal world is an enabled world.” The theme for IWD 2020 is #EachforEqual, looking to forge a gender-equal world that:

  • Celebrates achievements by women
  • Raises awareness against bias
  • Takes action for equality

Every year, HR leaders in many companies organize events, activities, celebrations, or look at other ways to mark the occasion. The COVID-19 outbreak has tempered the occasion somewhat, with companies or even governments suggesting the cancellation or deferment of non-essential large-scale events. However, there are other options for HR professionals who want to commemorate the occasion in simple, meaningful and safe ways.

Below are some of the best ideas to celebrate IWD 2020 at work:

Set up lean-in circles

You could create lean-in circles for the women in office. These are small groups of women who meet at frequent intervals – say, fortnightly or monthly – to network, learn new skills, and to generally encourage each other to do better. Talent leaders could organize these meetings online, in the office cafeteria, over lunch, or wherever and whenever else suitable. The advantage of small groups comprising only women is that they can be unapologetically vocal about their ambitions and dreams, and get a friendly push from those who would empathize. An important consideration is to keep the group diverse i.e. include women from different backgrounds, roles, and seniority levels.

Create a library display

Mark out a section in the library – or put up a separate shelf at a suitable spot in the office, if the former is not feasible – where the HR professionals could put up biographies about great women in history, classics by female authors, and modern literature by and about women. Some interesting titles to display would be ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama, ‘No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference’ by Greta Thunberg, and ‘Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men’ by Caroline Criado Perez. This could stimulate interesting discussions in office and provide some encouragement.

Put up a pledge wall

This is a great way for HR leaders to encourage employees and engage them by committing them to taking some action towards forging a gender-equal world. Follow these steps:

  • Identify a suitable wall/location
  • Explain the meaning of #EachforEqual, so that employees have the context
  • Offer a call to action. For instance, “What can I do to create a more gender-equal world?”
  • Ask employees to put down a specific, tangible action towards the above point, along with their names
  • Stick the cards on the pledge wall
  • When it is time to take the wall down, ask employees to retrieve their respective cards and affix them to their workstations, as reminders of the commitment they made

Recognize the women achievers

Give the inspiring, outstanding women in the organization their moments in the spotlight. On the occasion of IWD, talent leaders could create a special rewards program by inviting employees to share stories of inspiring women in office and their achievements. Ask them to look beyond just KPIs, to creativity, innovation efforts, kindness, and leadership. Highlight the event and its results on the social media channels of the organization, to give more recognition to the achievers and to build the brand of the organization as a great employer.

Send a simple thank-you note

A great way to celebrate IWD 2020 is to go back to the classic – a thank-you note. In the digital age, HR leaders could choose to send an email, a social media card, or other electronic options, in addition to the simple handwritten note. In fact, the official IWD website has its own branded social media cards available at https://www.internationalwomensday.com/SocialMedia-Cards.

Organize a webinar

An on-site event called off due to COVID-19 could easily be converted to a webinar. HR professionals could arrange to have the same external or internal speaker(s) make their presentations or give their talks online, and you could include Q&As too. Be sure to send calendar invites to all employees.

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