Why ‘Embrace Equity’ theme is so important for International Women’s Day 2023

Views from Charlotte Lade, Head of Communications at MetLife UK and Chair of MetLife’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) committee ‘MetLife Makes a Difference’.

This year’s theme of ‘Embracing Equity’ is an important one and one that should sit high on the corporate agenda for employers of all sizes. 

A workplace can mean different things to different people, however they have the following in common: the opportunity to challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion with the goal of making all workplaces a place to provide everyone with what they need to succeed. And organisations can play a huge role in helping employees to understand that this is an ongoing golden thread that should be woven into the fabric of a workplace – going far beyond just saying it, but it being understood and ultimately embraced at every level of an organisation. 

Communication is key to driving awareness of this vital topic, to generate discussion and debate and to help reduce misunderstandings - such as equity isn’t the same as equality. Because these actions create and enhance a greater level of understanding than there was before. It is about taking steps to drive change together and forge a path forward where equity is truly encouraged and embraced. The continuation of communication around such a fundamental topic can turn small moments into a movement. 

The sentiment of DEI should be evident and visible in a workplace. At MetLife, diversity, equity and inclusion is a global business, workforce, and sustainability imperative. It is linked to our strategy, our people commitment and business and organisational performance. Our partnerships are just one way in which we can close the gender and equity gaps, increasing the diversity of future workforces. 

One example of this is the two-year partnership the MetLife Foundation announced with Inspiring Girls International, aimed at empowering women of the future by building confidence in young girls and breaking down gender stereotypes in underserved communities, through a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers.

The UK is one of five markets chosen to launch this partnership, along with Spain, Italy and Poland. Local Inspiring Girls teams with extensive school networks will work with MetLife volunteers to host school talks, speed-networking events, workshops and online activity to inspire girls aged 11-15 from underrepresented areas, so they have the confidence to become whatever they want to be in life. 

This partnership is part of MetLife Foundation’s pledge of $150 million funding and 800,000 employee volunteer hours to support underserved and underrepresented communities.

The reason partnerships like this are so important is because young women still shy away from pursuing higher education and careers in certain fields. In fact, women make up just 22% of the UK’s core STEM workforce1 and just 9% of chemistry professors in the UK are women2. There is a lot of work to be done to attract, recruit and retain women in STEM careers, including improving hiring and promotion pathways. 

All organisations can play a role in embracing equity. Simply put, equity isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must have.

1 STEM statistics - The Faraday Institution 

2v18_vo_inclusion-and-diversity-_womans-progression_report-web-.pdf (rsc.org)