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Celebrating Strength in Diversity on International Women’s Day

Next Wednesday, March 8, the world will be celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD). While it might seem like women are making great progress toward equality, key disparities remain in areas such as earning power, corporate management, education and political representation. Based on our current course and speed, the World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap in North America won’t close entirely until 2186 – more than 150 years in the future! We can do better.

This year’s IWD campaign theme is #BeBoldForChange. If the speed of change is too slow, it requires bold and dramatic actions to change our estimated time of arrival.

IWD organizers suggest you use March 8 as an important opportunity to:

  • Celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women because visibility and awareness help drive positive change for women, and
  • Declare bold actions you will take as an individual, or collectively as an organization, to help progress the gender agenda because a purposeful action can accelerate gender parity across the world.

Further ways to #BeBoldForChange are suggested on the IWD website.

Closing the gender gap may seem like an abstract goal, but today’s businesses and government agencies have the power to make real, practical change in helping ensure parity for both men and women.

Bringing together workers from different backgrounds and experiences builds a more creative, innovative, and productive workforce. Diversity of all types – gender, religion, background, age and experience – has tangible benefits to public sector organizations such as a better ability to stay in touch with the citizens they serve. Based upon the projected workforce shortages due to large numbers of Baby Boomers moving on to retirement, this will be a key strategy for attracting top talent and retaining Millennials, Gen-Xers, and other groups to ensure a robust workforce.

Conduent encourages and welcomes diversity for many reasons. One of them is that it just makes good business sense. Last fall, I spoke at the World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in Melbourne, Australia, on the value of diversity in building a strong organization that delivers great business results. In that presentation, I cited a poll in which executives interviewed by Forbes were asked whether they agreed that “A diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that drive innovation.” Nearly half said they strongly agreed, and the total number of those who agreed was a whopping 85 percent!

Touching the lives of millions of citizens across the country and around the world requires a commitment to diversity and innovation that transcends a single-day celebration. We need to be committed to lead and drive inclusion every day, every month, every year; especially if we are to change our ETA of 2186. On a personal level, it’s the commitment that I make every day to my employees, clients, and children.

What will you do to #BeBoldForChange?