March 7, 2023
FROM KATE: Embrace Equity IWD 2023
Embrace Equity is the theme for International Women’s Day 2023. I am an optimist so on the surface this seems like a very straight forward statement and surprising that it would even need to be said. After all, isn’t this a basic assumption of our country? Unfortunately, it has become increasingly clear that the idea of people being equal is not a universal belief, and women are seeing evidence of this inequity in very public ways over the past few years.
The UN measures and reports gender equity in the number of years it will take to achieve gender equality. It measures the length of between until women earn the same wages, have the same educational opportunities, be treated equally under the law, etc. The latest report by the UN said that number of years to reach gender equality has increased to 300 years! As reported, “Generation after generation of girls are being born into a world where gender equality is not even a possibility in their lifetimes.”
How can this be acceptable? How can we live everyday knowing that it is estimated that it will be four generations before girls and boys, men and women, are living their lives as equal human beings.
How can we live everyday knowing that it is estimated that it will be four generations before girls and boys, men and women, are living their lives as equal human beings.
I am fortunate, or in today’s terms, privileged. I have had good jobs, educational opportunities, and I chose to be a mother. I spent my career working in technology and much of that work enabled me to live in countries where women were not as fortunate as I have been. I lived and worked in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, places where prevailing customs and legal systems relegate women to second tier status.
I am now living back in the USA where the general consensus is that while there are issues where women face discrimination (think #metoo, wages and healthcare inequality), overall, much of society is not bothered by that inequality. Some of these issues drive people to action, but men and women in this country seem to believe that women in the America don’t have it that bad. I believe that accepting the current status quo reinforces the cultural norms of gender inequity.
I believe that accepting the current status quo reinforces the cultural norms of gender inequity.
I have been working with a variety of private and public organizations to improve the prospects of women-owned businesses for years. This work includes a deep dive into the current state of how federal government (Small Business Administration) certifications for women-owned and small businesses impact awards of government contracts to marginalized businesses and if these certifications actually influence private sector corporations in their DEI supplier goals. The story is bleak. The federal government has a goal of granting 5% of federal contracts to certified women-owned businesses. Here are their results:
“In three decades, the agency has still met its goal of granting 5 percent of federal contracts to certified women-owned small businesses only twice — in 2015 and 2019. “
The results are that 95% of all federal government contracts go to businesses run by men. How can we expect to create economic parity and build women’s businesses and economic power with these numbers?
Embracing equality means embracing change, across all aspects of society and culture. My work is around economic parity and despite the discouraging reports from the federal government, I will never stop working toward equality.
Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are a celebration of women and a recognition of women’s contributions across all facets of society: socially, culturally and economically. Embracing equality means embracing change, across all aspects of society and culture. My work is around economic parity and despite the discouraging reports from the federal government, I will never stop working toward equality.
My hope for 2023 women’s history month is that we build awareness of these disparities and work to makes changes that will result in a reduction in the estimated 300 years to equality and that we truly Embrace Equity.
Read the original article on Medium.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Isler is the CO-Founder and CEO of WMarketplace. After over 20 years with Microsoft, Kate took her passion for business into the start-up world. With a depth of experience in tech, a healthcare-focused technology grew almost to fruition. Kate considers this one of her best experiences as she learned “what not to do”. A shift into a non-profit start-up dedicated to celebrating International Women’s Day was the catalyst to Kate’s most recent adventure, WMarketplace. Kate’s passion for gender parity has led her to a seat on the global board of Girl Rising and she is a committed mentor for the International Women’s Forum. Kate lives in Seattle with her husband. They have three, flown-the-coop, sons and one granddog, Ed.
Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more.