Every year, I see the same joke on International Women’s Day: “What do we do the other 364 days?”
The answer? We do what we’re doing today… just without the fanfare.
We work hard.
We play hard.
We support ourselves and our families.
We pursue our goals and dreams.
We overcome challenges.
We lead, we follow, and we collaborate.
Ultimately, we do what we need to do to survive.
My life is easy in comparison to what many women face around the globe. I can work, I can move around in relative safety, I can choose who I want to spend my life with, and I am an equal in my home. I can speak as freely as any man I know in any environment in which I speak, and I haven’t been denied opportunities to rise and thrive.
One of the things I’m most grateful for is my job, and the equal opportunity environment we’ve created here. We have a team of 16, and 50% of us are women: women from different cultural backgrounds, women of different ages (21 to 66), and women with different sorts of education and experience. In all honesty, we weren’t hired to achieve a particular gender balance… but that’s what’s happened in the midst of getting the best people for the job. There is no ceiling connected with gender here, nor orientation, nor race.
We are directors, we are designers, we are writers, we are user experience professionals, we are strategists, and we are financial and organizational administrators. And we can do our jobs effectively because we don’t have to leap the hurdle of inequality on a daily basis.
Many of our clients are women, too, and they occupy roles from Executive Director to Assistant Gift Officer across a diverse range of organizations.
One of our most important jobs in any client engagement is to elevate key voices: the voices who know a landscape best; the voices who recognize problems and develop solutions; the voices who speak eloquently for those who cannot speak for themselves.
In the last year, those voices have included…
- a chef who teaches parents and children in low-income families how to cook healthier meals;
- a scientist who is making massive strides toward preventing crop disease in impoverished areas;
- a consultant who helps nonprofit leaders of all stripes run their organizations more effectively;
- a philanthropist who is supporting transformative projects for women and girls overseas;
- a psychologist who is increasing access to mental health care for people of color;
- a stand-up comedian who speaks to our society’s biases and bigotry in a provocative and hilarious act; and
- a parent of 5 and a grandparent of 12 who didn’t graduate high school, but ensured every last one of their kids and grandkids made it through college.
Each one of these voices belongs to a inspiring, exceptional woman.
But even as we celebrate our freedom as women to work and live as we choose, and even as we speak to incredible women doing incredible things every day, we know that our rights and opportunities are ones that many women and girls do not share.
So today, as we commemorate International Women’s Day, I will express my gratitude for the room I’ve been given to run in my own life, for the women and men I work with here who focus on character over chromosomes, and for those clients we work with who drive powerful change in our society.
Life on these six floors is great, and we owe it to women all over the world to drive real change until they — and their daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, cousins, friends, and co-workers — can say the same.