Women’s Equality Day is celebrated in the United States on August 26 to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex. And while the right to vote was a hard-fought win, it marks just one milestone in the continuing march to gender equality across all sectors of modern life. There are many more ahead, so how do we get there?
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted us all in a variety of ways, but according to a joint report by the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, “The COVID-19 crisis threatens decades of progress for women and girls, disproportionately impacting women’s incomes, employment, and education opportunities, while increasing pressures of unpaid care”. In the U.S. alone more than 2.5 million women left the workforce during the pandemic. While this is a major setback for women economically and will take generations to fix, there is much that we can do together to recover.
Achieving gender parity means that we must all move forward together. Here are several ways that we can do just that.
- Vote! Representation matters. First and foremost, women must participate in the democratic process. Women make up roughly 51 percent of the population, but only 27.5 percent of Congress is made up of women.
- Continue to close the gap in underrepresented fields like STEM. According to the U.S Census, we have come a long way to closing the representation gap in STEM fields, but we have a long way to go. Women made gains – from 8% of STEM workers in 1970 to 27% by 2019 – but men still dominate the field. Men made up 52% of all U.S. workers but 73% of all STEM workers.
- Create a path to return for people who have been out of the labor force for various reasons during the last several years. There are many reasons that people leave the labor market in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses need to find ways to encourage workers to return including better paid family leave efforts, support for caregivers and creating workplace cultures that promote taking advantage of these policies and programs.
LexisNexis proudly strives for a culture that promotes equality at every level. Haley Lentz is the President of our employee resource group Women Connected and per Haley, “LexisNexis Reed Tech supports women in the workforce in several ways. The organization has recently implemented a significant amount of paid maternity leave for new mothers, which allows women to spend precious time bonding with their new family without worrying about finances or the need to return to work quickly. We also provide flexible work options and schedules for women that facilitates a work/life balance. For example, employees may choose to work from home or return to the office and can pick the schedule that works best for their family.”
Supporting gender equality is not a once-a-year effort, it is an everyday effort both inside the organization and externally in our communities. We invite readers to help us commemorate Women’s Equality Day this year by supporting two organizations empowering women throughout the year: Dress for Success and Womenspace Inc. , because what happens outside of work is critical to how women are able to show up for work. And don’t forget to share your efforts on social media to spread the word with the hashtag #womensequalityday.