International Women's Day

On Friday 8th March, the world will mark International Women’s Day – celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and promoting gender equality.

The first International Women’s Day took place in 1911, supported by over one million people. More than a century later, it has become an annual global movement, raising awareness and inspiring action.

It’s an opportunity for all of us to speak and act collectively, and to evidence an understanding of the value that comes from addressing inequality, in both our professional and personal lives. We’ll be marking the day at ICAEW and I highly encourage other businesses and workplaces to do so too.

'Balance for Better'

The theme for this year is #BalanceforBetter, which runs throughout 2019. It refers to the idea that greater balance between the genders will lead to a better world for us all.

We know that balance and equality is morally right – leading to greater fairness and empowerment – but there’s an increasing realisation that it’s also good for business. Businesses with higher levels of gender diversity – particularly in leadership roles – are more likely to have above-average profitability and higher levels of productivity.

Diversity and inclusion are essential for communities and economies to thrive, and therefore play a key role in realising our vision of a World of Strong Economies.

ICAEW Chartered Accountants

2019 is a particularly exciting year for women in our profession.

In June, our third female ICAEW President, Fiona Wilkinson, will take office. Fiona is a strong supporter of gender equality in accountancy; during her presidential year she will lead a celebratory campaign to mark the 100 years since we admitted our first female member, Mary Harris Smith. Mary became a member in May 1920 and was the first female chartered accountant in the world.

Last year, we signed the Women in Finance Charter – committing ourselves to have 40% of our senior management team made up of women by March 2020.

Our regional offices and District Societies across the UK have also been rolling out a national ‘Women in Business’ programme, and last year we launched two new ‘Women in Finance’ networks, in Brussels and Beijing.

Beyond gender

International Women’s Day has proved hugely successful in highlighting the inequalities that many women still face around the world.

However, in recent years it has also sought to extend its message of inclusivity further, and the campaign is clear that it now belongs to all groups collectively everywhere, who care about equality and human rights.

I hope that we will all take the opportunity – on 8th March and beyond – to engage with these ideas and make our social and professional communities more inclusive.

Please follow me on Twitter @MichaelIzza.

  • One of the biggest issues women face in the workplace is unconscious bias. IWD2019 events on 8 March included a session on practical ways to address unconscious bias in the workplace whether at recruitment stage, workplace interactions, meetings or during appraisal/evaluation stages.  

  • Whenever I see the figure of “the Institute Lady” on the website or other publications of ICAEW, it makes me proud that my institute is symbolically represented by a woman. It is quite satisfying that rights and needs of women are well recognized by ICAEW. This blog and a blog in Diversity community about gender pay gap along with recording of a webinar on gender pay gap explains how seriously ICAEW recognizes the difference between the salary structure of men and women. Undoubtedly, achievement of financial equality between men and women is the precursor to economic and social growth of world.

    Further, I request Diversity Community and ICAEW to cover other underprivileged and discriminated segments of population such as persons challenged by disabilities, non-whites and Muslims. It is matter of great pain that discrimination against Muslims is not even recognized. A recent terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand against Muslims by a white terrorist did not invite adequate level of condemnation by Western nations.

    Has ICAEW / Diversity Community a plan to support / pacify it Muslim members in the backdrop of Christchurch attack?