On Monday, March 7, I had the honor of hosting a panel for International Women’s Day (IWD), which is celebrated the world over on March 8. This was Siegel+Gale’s ninth annual IWD celebration. I, along with six pioneering women marketing leaders, explored the role of brands in gender equality.

IWD is a day to revel in the social, cultural, economic, and political achievements of women. It is also a day to take stock. The 2022 theme is “Break the Bias.” The moral and business cases for gender equality have been well documented for decades. Nonetheless, in 2022, rigorous studies and the lived experiences of countless women in the workplace—and in the community more broadly—provide ample evidence that gender bias, from outright discrimination to small indignities, whether deliberate or unconscious, is very real and present. This bias continues to make it difficult for many women to advance.

Inspired by this year’s IWD theme, in closing, I asked our panelists, “What is your organization’s commitment to challenge gender bias and inequality, and how will you measure success?” Here’s what they had to say.

“The first thing that we’re committing to is hiring and making sure that, as we build Clubhouse, we’re building with inclusivity, DEI, and gender equity at the forefront. And that means in terms of who we put in what positions, how we pay them, and what opportunities are given. So that’s the first thing. I think the second thing, which is probably a harder thing to measure but is something that we will continue to do always, is to elevate and amplify voices that have historically and traditionally not been at the forefront. And that is for women, but that is also for all types of people: Black people, trans people, people from the LGBTQ community, Asian voices. Everybody deserves a seat at the table, and everybody’s voices deserve to be heard.”

Maya Watson, Global Head of Marketing, Clubhouse

 

“We work closely with the UAE government on gender equality, and we have partnered with them at the Expo 2020. We signed a pledge to bring women managers up to 30% by year 2026. Now, we signed this six, seven months ago, and last summer and we were at 14% women managers and senior managers, executives, and board members. We are now at 18%. So, we are clearly measuring this. And the other thing we are rolling out this year is a gender unconscious bias training for all the organizations, and that goes to 17 countries and over 35,000 employees. So that’s a big step for us.”

Dana Khoury Eid, VP Brand Communication & Marketing—Corporate Head Office, Majid Al Futtaim (Retail)

 

“We realized that we get people into these affinity groups to help them network and build a support network, but I think what we need to do is have more people join and more people participate in some of these events and things that we do to create an environment where people feel supported by their colleagues and peers. So, if it’s a women’s network event, how do we get more men to attend that event and to understand and see the struggles of women and what needs to get done? . . .  We’re building a whole set of systems internally to make sure that people know what it means to be an ally from the minute someone is onboarded to throughout their career at the firm.”

Christine Anderson, Senior Managing Director and Global Head of External Relations, Blackstone

 

“At Hootsuite, everything we’re trying to do is to create access so that people can find belonging. And that’s at the top of the pyramid in terms of how we’re thinking about how we look at the market. And it isn’t that we aren’t still focused on that beautiful stat you shared about 80% of the Fortune 500 working with us, but where I think we’re really going to achieve our potential as a company is by bringing more and more people in who maybe haven’t felt like they had a seat. And we really want to show the way that principled business is good business, so that’s the commitment we will continue to make.”

Maggie Lower, CMO, Hootsuite

 

“For us, gender equality means giving women equal opportunity for career advancement. With Philips being such a large global company, we also have great diversity in terms of nationalities and cultures. But with over 3000 practitioners worldwide, I strongly believe we should have even more females in leadership positions. And so, I’ve intentionally insured we have a 50/50 split of men and women in leadership positions in my organization. And then overall for the full organization, we have more than 50, precisely 58%, are females throughout the function. Because I believe it’s so important for us to have a strong pipeline of future leadership talent, which also requires diversity of experience and thought, it makes us stronger, more creative and, of course, it challenges us to be our very best.”

Lorraine Barber-Miller, Chief Marketing & E-Commerce Officer, Philips

 

“I’m really proud to be part a brand that prioritizes equity, and we’re all continuously challenging ourselves to do more. But it’s not just about the intention or the initiatives that we launch—it’s about creating the impact. And we need rigor around the measurement of that impact. We just hired a Chief Research Data and Impact Officer who will help us analyze what we’re learning from our work, so that we can scale it around the world successfully. And then we’re also working closely with our Chief DEI Officer who has brought in the Equity Lab and other external partners to help us both internally with our employees and affinity groups, as well as in our work.”

Samantha Matlin, EVP, Chief Marketing Officer, Sesame Workshop