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 Recently, IFS had the pleasure of holding a panelist discussion for International Women’s Day.  

The panel hosted by IFS Chief HR Officer Kate Bishop included guest Melissa Di Donato, CEO of SUSE and members of the IFS leadership team, Mark Moffat, Chief Customer Officer and Melanie Karunaratne, Senior Product Marketing Director. 

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. The day also marks an annual call to action to accelerate gains toward equality.

This year, the focus and theme of the celebration is: #EmbraceEquity. 

Taking inspiration from the panel, we have articulated the importance of embracing equity– and how leaders can incorporate steps to creating equity within their organizations. 

Why Equality is NOT enough – the difference between equity and equality. 

Firstly, it is essential to understand the difference between equity and equality: they are inherently different concepts, despite being used interchangeably. 

Equality means individuals of different gender, race, religions, etc., are all treated fairly and have the same resources and opportunities. 

Equity recognizes each individual has different circumstances and allocates the resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. 

For example, Equality would be everyone having the same resources to get a job. Equity would mean everyone would have fair access to resources and opportunities they need to get a job.  

Acknowledging the difference between the two is key to building impactful measures capable of creating tangible change.  

Equal opportunities are no longer enough, and we must embrace equity to work towards true inclusion – but how? 

The Steps for Change: making tangible actions to drive a confident and empowered workforce. 

Studies have shown that during a certain point in a woman’s life, their confidence declines due to a lack of empowerment.  

To avoid the “trap-door effect,” a common problem, especially within technology, leaders must start at ground zero and take explicit steps to inspire confidence and empower women in the workforce. 

  1. Make zero assumptions and understand what each individual needs to be the best version of themselves. 
  1. Establish a working environment that safely promotes a natural cycle: from failing to learning to providing opportunities for growth and development 
  1. Deliver programs and networks to build confidence and identify allies. 
  1. Embrace active listening and offer transparent communication. 
  1. Provide coaching and mentoring opportunities to nurture early career talent.

It has been said many times, that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” but this is simply not enough. In the context of achieving equity, it is imperative that we must act with urgency: it is a race, not a stroll to the finish line. 

By actively encouraging best practice and acknowledging the importance of equity – businesses will feel the impact throughout their organization.  

Business Resilience – the power of diversity: 

Having a diverse workforce produces better business outcomes. Diversity of thought is instrumental to any organization – innovation rarely operates from the same formula or individuals. 

A problem in the technology industry is the lack of talent, especially within STEM. Recent studies have shown that only 24% of women make up the workforce in STEM occupations.  

For organizations to build business resilience, they must consider their talent pipeline and create new opportunities for women. Considering a new strategy that maximizes their resources and assets in the pursuit of equity, will bring in new and valuable talent. While also retaining their existing workforce. 

By embracing equity organizations will see a long-term impact, both within business resiliency and also through employee engagement.   

Final thoughts 

Bringing this blog to a conclusion, we would like to highlight some of the final thoughts from our International Women’s Day Panel.  

What piece of advice would you give to others to embrace equity? 

“Help breakdown institutional and cultural barriers and policies that pose a barrier to change and embracing equity” – Melanie Karunaratne. 

“Ask questions and be an active listener – notice how many questions you ask of others and change your behavior.” – Mark Moffat. 

“Be your most authentic self. Embrace yourself and who you are.” – Melissa Di Donato.  

“Speak up and speak out” – Kate Bishop. 

We hope this blog has given you insight into the leadership agenda and inspires you and others around you to #EmbraceEquity. 

IFS will be sharing soundbites from the #IWD23 Panel discussion in the coming weeks – keep your eyes peeled on our Social Media channels for more. 

Do you have questions or comments?

We’d love to hear them so please leave us a message below.

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