International Women's Day 2015: make it happen

  • Posted on March 9, 2015

This is a guest blog post written by Avanade alum, Eddie Pate.

All around the world, International Women's Day (IWD) represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. Make It Happen is the 2015 theme for encouraging effective action for advancing and recognizing women. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women's groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.

A Moment of Reflection

I had someone in my organization ask an honest question about why there is so much focus on IWD.  Look, his intent wasn't bad, he probably was asking what has been on the minds of others, but they never asked. After I did my best to explain the importance to us as an organization, and to the world for recognizing women’s achievements, I had a moment of reflection.

I found myself thinking about how amazing it was that IWD has been celebrated worldwide since 1911.  Yes, 104 years!  On the one hand, this is very cool and I bet in those 104 years to say there have probably been amazing stories of inspiration is a huge understatement.  I did wonder though, in that moment of reflection, if the NEED of having IWD is one of merely celebration or whether we were still trying to convince men that women have had a stunning impact on society.  Sadly, I think the latter point is still in play.

I also wondered in that moment whether my team was doing enough to sustain what IWD normally points out as the need for equality in the workplace.  I wondered whether we were communicating enough about the importance of women in the workplace, in leadership roles, in technical roles, in HR roles, and so on.  I also reflected on our journey in the 3 plus years I’ve led Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) efforts at Avanade.  I think this popped into my head because I recently did a presentation where I painted a picture of Avanade in 2011 as being this fertile untapped environment ripe for D&I to blossom. Forward to today and I would describe that same field now covered in beautiful flowers blooming everywhere.

Dedication to Women All Year-long

Avanade is celebrating our 4th IWD as a company and we're seeing involvement from every level in the company globally….it's amazing really. We've started women’s development programs such as the Accelerator Program for Women and Realize Your Potential, and we've implemented difference training. We also have an executive mentoring program, a diversity learning series, and we've implemented candidate slating guides, which in part has resulted in a 71% positive increase in the number of women at senior levels (with focus that only took a little more than 2 years). Let’s not forget to mention our women’s employee resource group and various yammer communities.

It was an impactful moment of reflection for me and ultimately served to make me think: cool, we are in the game but “@!%” we have a lot to do!  It was fitting to have this final thought as I came out of my moment of reflection because it fits in with the international them for IWD this year, which is #MakeItHappen. It was also fitting because Accenture and Avanade’s 2015 IWD theme #ListenLearnLead, seems to fit where we’ve come from and where we are going.  It is simple, really, just resolutely start your journey and good things will happen.

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