March 08, 2019

On International Women’s Day, a commitment to expanding access in the workplace

Sarah Sheehan, Co-Founder & Chief Customer Officer of Bravely

Every year on March 8th, brands and people fill our inboxes and news feeds with stories celebrating the women around us. As a holiday, International Women’s Day is inspiring and energizing but it is also a sobering a reminder of how far we have to go to reach true gender equity.

The positive intentions behind International Women’s Day are clear. A world where women have equal access is a better world for everyone. Gender diversity drives innovation––we know that when women are represented in the C-suite and the boardroom profitability increases and the different perspectives brought by gender diversity make for stronger collaboration and better solutions.

But International Women’s Day serves its purpose only where it exists as part of a year-round commitment to achieve gender parity. And for some people, organizations, and brands, today and commemorations like it are treated as boxes to check off—opportunities to show support or signal virtue without actually taking meaningful action.

As a female founder, I love and live for the opportunity to celebrate and elevate other women. So often, women in the workplace get stuck or don’t achieve the mobility they deserve, because they lack access to the programs and support that they need to succeed—from coaching to flexibility to maternity benefits.

That’s why improving access for people who may not otherwise have it has become central to Bravely’s mission. Every day, we give thousands of women access to a professional coach meant to help them thrive at work and give them the tools (and often the confidence) they need to climb that ladder. We also help company leaders figure out how to better serve female employees by providing them with insights around their inclusion and professional development efforts (or lack thereof).

I see Bravely as a way to create change by doubling down on our commitment to access. And on International Women’s Day, I feel even more passionate about expanding this access as far and wide as possible. We know that women are less likely to speak up when they’re dealing with something at work, whether they’re dealing with something serious or just feeling stuck in their role and unsure about how they’ll ever break through the glass ceiling. (Oftentimes, this is because they fear retribution.) Our hope is that a tool like Bravely makes it easier to go forward.

We hope other organizations see International Women’s Day as an opportunity to commit — or re-commit — to reaching gender equity and granting access to resources that support their employees.

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