International Women’s Day: Exploring what equity can look like in a small business
As the world prepares to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, Content Coms explores what it means for us to Embrace Equity as a small business and some examples of how we started.
The theme of this year’s IWD is Embrace Equity: ‘Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #EmbraceEquity.’
Sounds like a great world, doesn’t it? It’s certainly one we want to live in. Here at Content Coms, our workforce is mostly women (two-thirds!). We strive to carry the principles of IWD with us 365 days a year not just in words but in practice, with supportive policies and safe spaces for intentional discussion. The women in our community always inspire us to do better, so we’re excited to continue this conversation and share what IWD means to us.
What is equity? And what is it NOT?
Let’s be honest. Creating an equitable workplace isn’t just about the number of women in the office or how you celebrate them on social media. It’s not about giving women in the workplace a pedicure coupon on IWD, as one of our colleagues horrifically read about on LinkedIn. It’s certainly not highlighting your women employees for the day and considering IWD ‘taken care of.’
First of all, it’s important to take a step back and define equity and its relation to its commonly confused cousin, equality. As defined by National Association of Colleagues and Employers, “The term ‘equity’ refers to fairness and justice and is distinguished from equality: Whereas equality means providing the same to all, equity means recognizing that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to imbalances.”
For this reason, it can be difficult to describe what equity ‘looks like’ precisely because it looks different for everyone. This often makes getting started more difficult, as there isn’t a clear-cut set of rules to follow.
Image credit: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
How can you Embrace Equity in your small business?
As our Founding Director Joanna Watchman explains: “There’s no one-size-fits-all for equity because each individual and business is unique, but it’s better to start the journey than wait in uncertainty. Content Coms might be small, but we act with the intention of supporting our women in big ways.”
At Content Coms we try to keep things simple. Everything starts with:
- A picture (visual or verbal). You need to have a vision of what is possible and what great (and equity, in this case) looks like when forming the building blocks of a plan. Personally, we are inspired by people, from our internal team to our clients to our own families. As a women-run business, we are particularly inspired by women who have led the way. Pictured here, Matt Hyde’s (our SEO Manager) three sweet children are learning about inspirational women who have changed the world. Yes, this photo made our hearts melt, too.
- A conversation. At Content Coms, we talk and listen to each other, all the time. We need to know what our people need and want from their working life. By having this baseline to work from, we can ensure that we’ve provided the best environment for people where they feel like they can thrive.
- Action. After having conversations that help us move forward, we put in place what we can put in place. Whether it’s flexible working hours or a team day, we always try to hear out the needs of our team. If we can’t make it happen, we explain why.
- Structure. Even small businesses need good policies and procedures but you don’t have to start from scratch – our friends at Rise HR are always on hand to keep us up to date with best practice ideas and employment law obligations.
- Another conversation! We check in with each other continuously, not just on IWD. Although we’ve now embraced hybrid working, we make sure we all get together in person at least once a month for a friendly chat, some team brainstorming, and, of course, sharing a meal together.
What Embracing Equity means to our Content Coms team
So now you’ve heard about our team and what we do, but we’ll let them speak for themselves on what equity means to them.
Our Account Director, Esther Griffin, points to honesty and effort as key starting points, “For me, creating a workplace that works for all isn’t about being perfect – it’s about being honest with ourselves. Where are we now? Where would we like to be? And how do we get there? It can only happen when we facilitate and support those conversations. I’m proud to say we do that at Content Coms.”
“Embracing equity to me means creating an environment that encourages and values everyone for who they are, where individuals can thrive and reach their full potential,” said Sam Julyan, our Campaign Manager.
Sophie Crossley, our Content Executive, speaks to how important equity is to building a future: “I’m one of the newest members of the team here at Content Coms, but I’m lucky enough to have stepped into a role I where feel that I can take on whatever opportunities come my way without worrying about how it will impact my career – whether that’s deciding to have a family in the future or speaking up when something is wrong. To me, that’s what equity and a good workplace is all about: creating safe, just spaces where people can thrive.”