Each year on August 26th, we honor Women’s Equality Day and celebrate the enactment of the 19th Amendment, which prohibits federal and state governments in the U.S. to deny the right to vote on the basis of sex. Additionally, we commemorate the remarkable achievements of women to date, and reaffirm our commitments to gender equality.
This year, unlike in years past, many of us are unable to celebrate the occasion in person due to the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, HR and employers play a continuous role in celebrating women’s equality, educating the workforce on women’s rights, and striving for a more equal workplace.
We’ve reached out to business owners and HR pros near and far to identify some of the best ways you can virtually celebrate Women’s Equality Day this year.
11 Virtual Ideas for Celebrating Women’s Equality Day
1. Pay your respects through virtual education
One of the best ways to celebrate Women’s Equality Day is through continuous education on the history and importance of the holiday. Do your research and invite a virtual speaker in to speak on the importance of both August 18th (the day the 19th amendment was ratified), and the decades-long struggle of suffragists to shape our society today. You can easily organize a remote Zoom event for everyone to stay connected.
Jessica Lipton, Founder of Elevate Delta 8, shares, “On August 18th every year, my team and I usually pay respects to gravesites of women that strived to make a difference in their communities in favor of women’s and civil rights. Since my team is now fully remote, we gather virtually while I visit the gravesites of these powerful women and we pay our respects together.”
2. Make a charitable donation
Another great way to honor the event is by making a charitable online donation to a women’s organization or a women-led group. “You and your coworkers may create a fundraiser or a contribution station where anyone can make donations of any amount,” says Martin Luenendonk, CEO of FounderJar.
Steward McGrenary, Director at Freedom Mobiles, adds, “Alternatively, if you’re financially able, consider making a one-time donation on behalf of the entire organization.”
Here’s a list of great women’s charities and organizations to get you started:
Remember -- any amount helps!
3. Challenge existing hiring practices
One of the most impactful ways you can continue to promote gender equality and women’s rights in the workplace is by revisiting your hiring practices. Unfortunately, gender stereotypes continue to divide the job market -- and women continue to be turned away from roles in male-dominated industries.
Amit Raj, Founder of The Links Guy, shares, “At our organization, we’ve been working to increase the number of women in senior positions. With our equal pay policy, these internal initiatives, and by filling numerous senior-level roles with outstanding female professionals, we recently doubled down on our commitment to confronting a male-dominated field.”
Here are a few ways to promote equality in recruiting and hiring:
Use gender-neutral language in job listings
Create a role-fitting score sheet to decrease the potential for bias
Frequently host company-wide training around unconscious bias
Track your diversity, equity, and inclusion number goals with a report card
4. Give virtual shout-outs, recognition, and rewards
Don’t forget to recognize the incredible women in your very own workforce! Create space for shoutouts and thank the women on your team for their efforts and determination in your organization.
“In order to make them feel an integral part of the company and to applaud their consistent work, we are going to give away vouchers for a 2-day holiday at Miami Beach. This way they can get some time away from work and can enjoy themselves with their female coworkers,” says Jessica Chase, Sales & Marketing Manager at Premier Title Loans.
Whether you are simply giving a shout out or offering a merit award, the most important part is that you make your team feel appreciated.
5. Host a virtual party or webinar
Instead of gathering in-person for a celebration, host a virtual event to educate, celebrate, and empower women on your team.
April Maccario, founder at AskApril, states, “I came up with the idea of conducting a program through Zoom that women can join for free. There will be speakers who will encourage and empower women. We can also host a Twitter hashtag party that everyone can participate in.”
Luenendonk of FounderJar also suggests organizing the webinar on topics related to women’s leadership.
Consider inviting local female voices to speak on suffragist history, include vibrant music by female artists, and provide information on why it’s important for women to vote.
6. Give the gift of an ebook
We sound like a broken record now, but we really, truly, believe that education is the key to promoting gender equality in the workplace. A thoughtful way to educate is through reading.
Thomas Brown, CEO of Wigsmaster, shares, “We intend to virtually celebrate the women in our workforce by offering to purchase one ebook that revolves around female equality for each of them… As a company, we shall pay fully for their books. In this way, we are sure to show them our support as well as spread the theme further for many years as they will most likely share the ebooks with other women in their lives.”
Darshan Somashekar, Founder & CEO of Solitaired, adds, “The best way to promote equal rights is via education and awareness! On Women’s Equality Day, nothing beats reading some excellent feminist authors to help everyone reset their patriarchal viewpoint.”
Here are a few great reads to consider:
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
The Equivalents by Maggie Doherty
The Woman’s Hour by Elaine Weiss
New Women in the Old West by Winifred Gallagher
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates
Suffragette by Emmeline Pankhurst
7. Initiate a Women’s Mentorship Program
There’s no better way to celebrate women than to set them up for success in the workplace. Despite holding 52 percent of management and professional-level positions, American women continue to lag substantially behind men in leadership positions. HR and employers can help bridge the gender leadership gap.
Steve Scott, CTO at Spreadsheet Planet, says, “We feel that providing guidance makes a difference and encourages female workers to pursue their goals. All you need is a mentorship program in which employees meet with their superiors to discuss career objectives, networking, education, and other opportunities for advancement.”
Stephen Light, Hiring Manager & Co-Owner of Nolah Mattress, suggests, “An all-female mentorship program gives female employees a safe space to talk about their career goals without receiving any prejudice. It is necessary to have an exclusive mentorship program for females since male employees have a different and easier experience.”
8. Solicit feedback from women on your team
What better way to identify areas for improvement than to go straight to the source? Getting a pulse from women in your workforce is a strong way to start.
Alina Clark, Co-Founder & Marketing Director at CocoDoc, shares, “We aim to make our workplace safe for women employees. This is why we’ve organized a virtual female-only team building meetup where we get to talk about all things women and find out ways through which we can improve their job satisfaction.”
“Do you want to discover how to make your workplace a better place for women? Ask! Solicit feedback on ways to enhance work happiness, safety, and office life, whether via a suggestion box or a survey,” suggests Jennifer Foster, Managing Editor for Authority Astrology.
9. Use social media to spread awareness virtually
Take the celebration outside of your organization and use social media to raise awareness. Whether it’s educating your followers on gender inequality, the history of Women’s Equality Day, or thanking the women in your workforce, social media is a fantastic platform for doing so.
Veronica Miller, Marketing Expert at VPNOverview, says, “Because of the speed and scale of online communities, anyone may participate in a worldwide discourse about a wide range of social concerns, such as gender inequity, job discrimination, sexual harassment, and more.”
10. Create a women-only internship program
Again, reach outside your own organization by creating a women-only internship program or female youth support program within your organization.
Sashia Ketz, CEO of Mojomox, adds, “Invite middle and high school girls to participate in job shadowing or side barging, make a presentation to a Girl Scout troop about STEM jobs, and give your finest female employees a college scholarship if they desire to continue their education.”
These programs will not only aid in the professional development of young women in your community, but also open doors to your organization for hiring future talent.
11. Give them the day off
Over 860,000 women left the workforce within one month of 2020 -- a number four times the rate of men who left. Because women are disproportionately impacted by the current circumstances as well as continuous gender inequalities in their everyday lives, consider offering them the day off to do whatever they’d like.
Wesley Exon, CEO of Best Value Schools, shares, “On 8/26 we’re hosting a virtual happy hour where we’ll be celebrating the women in our lives by sharing stories about how they've inspired or impacted us. We’re also giving women the day off on Friday 8/27 so that they can enjoy a 3-day weekend.”
Share Inspiring Stories
Everyone has a woman or two in their life who they have seen lead extraordinary lives. Whether it is someone back home, a teacher from school or college, or even a particularly strong woman at a previous workplace. This Women’s Equality Day, ask your employees to share the stories of the women they have always looked up to in their own lives. It will not just let your workers look at life and work from different perspectives but will also bring your workers closer together.
Azmaira Maker, Ph.D., Aspiring Families
More Tips From HR Leaders to Support Women In the Workplace
We reached out to several HR leaders for ways companies can celebrate Women's Equality Day and support women on a daily basis. Here are a few of our favorite responses.
Bring Your Child to Work
Encourage the women in your organization to bring their children to work on Women's Equality Day. For example, fully remote organizations can hold a virtual team meeting so that employees' children can hear about what different women do within the team – and the importance of equality in the workplace. Change starts with our children. The more we expose them to such ideas – the more we will continue to see positive strides for women in the future.
Amrita Saigal, Kudos
Celebrate their Successes, Educate About Equality
The best way to celebrate Women’s Equality Day remotely is by setting a time when all employees can get together virtually to celebrate the successes of women in your organization. This is a great opportunity to recognize women who have made significant contributions to your business and to reaffirm your commitment to gender equality. You can also use this time to educate employees about the importance of gender equality and how everyone can play a role in achieving it. This is also a chance to set goals for the future and brainstorm ways to further support women in your workplace.
Linda Shaffer, Checkr
Invest in the Health of Women Employees
One of the best ways for remote businesses—or any business—to celebrate Women's Equality Day is to invest in the health of women employees. The first step is for employers to review health insurance policies. An ideal plan would have low out-of-pocket costs, access to safe abortions, and enhanced mental health benefits. I also encourage the use of employee engagement surveys to discover other ways the company can support the well-being of women employees.
Adrienne Lucas, The One Club for Creativity
Ask Women What They Need to Be Successful in their Role
If we really want to create equitable work spaces for women, we need to start asking the right questions. How could we set more women up for success in the workplace? Ask them directly in the form of an employee survey, a suggestion box, or by conducting a virtual listening session. If you want to ensure that women are thriving in your organization, you have to know what support and resources they need to succeed. Additionally, you must also be willing to implement the actionable feedback received.
Shakima Jackson-Martinez, AnswerLab
Women Are Leaders in Your Organization - Celebrate Us
August 26th is Women's Equality Day and most organizations would do well to celebrate and recognize this important day. In your organization, this Women's Equality Day, celebrate your women employees by hosting an event that's All About Women. Have your senior women leaders host the event and have categories such as Best Overall Woman Leader, Best Operations Leader, or Best Financial Performance. Use data and metrics to determine the winners. Not only will this motivate other leaders to pursue high performance, it will also show other women the organization values and recognizes its women. Celebrate us.
Mardia Shands, Providence Swedish
Awareness of Voting Registration Status
Women's Equality Day is not only to celebrate but to bring awareness of women receiving the right to vote with the 19th Amendment. A remote business can bring awareness to this day by highlighting in their company newsletter, website, or social media platforms to have their employees check their local voting registration status. There are various websites where they can check their statuses, such as USA.Gov/Voter Registration, vote411.org, or Vote.org. The websites will also link them to their state's election office website for state-wide voting guidance. We were given the right to vote, so let's use it!
Tephanie Hopper, Diversity and Inclusion Manager
While Women’s Equality Day only happens once a year, it’s more important than ever for HR teams and employers to continue evaluating and improving efforts around women’s equality, gender discrimination, and career growth in your organization. Though celebrating virtually might feel different, we at GoCo are excited to help HR pros continue focusing on keeping their workforce happy. Read more HR resources here!