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International Women's Day 2024: How to Inspire Inclusion

9 min read
Mar 7, 2024

International Women's Day is the global celebration of women's achievements, progress, and the ongoing fight for gender equality. Each year, it serves as a reminder of the importance of empowering women and promoting their rights and opportunities in all aspects of life, including business. 

This year, International Women’s Day explores the theme "Inspire Inclusion", which urges us to reflect on the importance of creating environments where all individuals, regardless of gender, feel valued, respected, and empowered to succeed. In the context of business, inclusion is about ensuring equal opportunities for advancement, recognition, and career growth, regardless of gender or other characteristics.

The significance of this theme can’t be overstated for business. While women make up a significant portion of the workforce, they continue to face systemic barriers and disparities in the workplace including wage gaps, limited career advancement opportunities, and discrimination. This is especially true for non-white women and those at the intersections of other under-represented groups. Addressing the challenges women face is essential not just to promote gender equality, but also to unlock the full potential of businesses and economies. 

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Source: Forbes

So let’s explore the compelling reasons why inclusion is crucial for business and highlight examples of companies that have done so in meaningful ways. By understanding the business case for building an inclusive culture, we can take meaningful steps toward building more equitable and prosperous workplaces for all.


What is inclusion and why does it matter?

In business, inclusion refers to creating an environment where all individuals feel respected, valued, and supported, regardless of their background, identity, or characteristics. It's about fostering a sense of belonging and ensuring that everyone has equal access to opportunities, resources, and decision-making processes within an organization. Inclusion goes beyond mere representation; it's about actively welcoming and embracing diversity in all its forms, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, socioeconomic status, and more.

First and foremost, the reason to create inclusive workplaces is because it’s the right thing to do. Gender equality - and equality of other identities such as race, sexual orientation, class, background, and more - is an important issue that should extend beyond the business world, but here we are going to look at the practical reasons organizations should care.

Practically, research consistently demonstrates that gender diversity in the workforce leads to increased innovation, better decision-making, and higher financial performance. According to Forbes, 60.2% of gender-diverse companies report increased profits and productivity.  Similarly, an IBM study found that companies that prioritize the advancement of women achieve 61% higher growth than other organizations. By embracing individuals from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, businesses can cultivate a rich tapestry of ideas, solutions, and approaches to challenges. Collaboration among diverse teams often leads to the generation of fresh insights and breakthrough innovations that drive organizational growth and success.

Inclusivity also plays a pivotal role in enhancing decision-making processes within businesses. By incorporating a diverse array of voices and viewpoints, inclusive teams are better equipped to make informed decisions. This mitigates the risks of groupthink and ensures that decisions are well-rounded and reflective of varied perspectives, ultimately leading to more effective outcomes.

Another really important aspect of inclusivity is employee happiness and retention. Think about it, when you feel valued, respected, and included in the workplace, you are more likely to be motivated and committed to your work. Inclusive environments cultivate a sense of belonging and loyalty which means you keep the talent you’ve got and can attract the best of the best. 


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Source: Deloitte


Countless examples illustrate how companies that have invested in inclusion were able to drive success. I like to think that, at Hurree, we are on that list. Women make up 50% of our overall workforce and over 66% of our senior leadership team, including our COO and VP of Development, a rarity for tech and the wider business world. This has driven us forward in so many ways: product development, lead generation, and overall growth. Most importantly, we have a team that is committed to us as a company because we’re committed to them. 


Strategies for inspiring inclusion

What we’ve learned at Hurree is that inspiring inclusion is more than just promoting women, though that is certainly a start. Inclusion requires thought and strategy to address systemic barriers. 


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Source: Forbes

So how can your business get started in building an inclusive environment for women and all under-represented groups? Whether you’re an SMB or a large enterprise, here are a few things we’ve found success with at Hurree. 


Offer flexible working arrangements

A study found that nearly half of all working women are providing an average of 45 hours of unpaid care every week. That number is 17 hours per week for 25% of men, which shows a clear gap in the expectations and realities for women. The ability to work flexibly can be a game changer for everyone, but particularly women. It takes into account responsibilities outside the workplace, while encouraging increased productivity and work-life balance. Overall, flexible working arrangements drastically increase women’s participation in the workforce. 

Hurree, for example, follows core hours, meaning you can set your own start and finish time,  as long as you are online between 11am and 3pm GMT. We also offer remote options for any employee who asks (I actually work fully remotely from Scotland and have been able to continue working for short periods while visiting family in North America). In fact, we have a 92% score on Flexa Careers and were named as their 8th most flexible company in the Flexa100 2024. 

And flexible working should also include enhanced parental leave packages. This should not just be maternity leave either. Encouraging the non-birthing partner and adoptive parents to take leave means that everyone can more equally participate in the workforce. 

Implement gender-inclusive hiring and promotion practices

Gender-inclusivity in hiring and promoting means more than just setting a quota. There needs to be real thought and practical steps to ensure that opportunities are available for all (and that women feel comfortable applying). Here are a few tips to help you implement a gender-inclusive hiring process:

  • Establishing diversity goals and metrics:  While it shouldn’t be your only strategy, goals and metrics can be helpful when measuring your hiring practices. This includes establishing targets for the representation of women and other under-represented groups in leadership positions, as well as monitoring the gender composition of candidate pools and hires. By holding themselves accountable to diversity goals, companies demonstrate their commitment to creating a more gender-inclusive workforce and can identify areas for improvement.
  • Using diverse hiring panels: It’s a proven fact that we - consciously or not - hire people who are like us in some ways. While training, which we’ll touch on below, can help tackle this, ensuring diversity among hiring panels by including individuals from different backgrounds, genders, and levels within the organization is even better. This helps minimize biases and makes sure that multiple perspectives are considered during the evaluation process. Additionally, having diverse hiring panels sends a message of inclusivity and demonstrates the company's commitment to diversity at all levels.
  • Providing bias awareness training: Investing in your hiring managers and recruiters through training can help participants recognize and mitigate biases, such as affinity bias or confirmation bias. By equipping hiring teams with the tools to recognize and address biases, companies can ensure a more fair and equitable hiring process.
  • Using gender-neutral job descriptions: Did you know that terms like "ninja," "rockstar," or "dominant," can be perceived as more masculine and can actually put women off applying for certain roles? Ensuring that any and all job descriptions that are posted are inclusive of women and other groups may take a little extra time, but can drastically expand your hiring pool, meaning you actually get the best person for the job. 


Ensure pay equity

This is where the theme of investing in women gets literal. What’s the old saying - put your money where your mouth is? In this case, it’s putting your money where the women are, which is something many businesses are not currently doing. As of 2023, women earn approximately 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man. This gap widens when you take into account women of color, with Black women earning just 60 cents and Latinas earning only 55 cents for every dollar earned by their white, male counterparts.

Addressing the gender pay gap requires a concerted effort to ensure fairness and equity in compensation practices. One effective strategy is conducting pay audits, where companies analyze salary data to identify any gender pay disparities within their organization. By pinpointing areas where pay gaps exist, companies can take targeted action to rectify these discrepancies and promote equal pay for equal work.

Implementing transparent pay policies is another crucial step in closing the gender pay gap. By establishing clear criteria for determining salaries and promotions, such as education, experience, and performance metrics, companies can promote fairness and equity in pay decisions. Ensuring consistency in the application of these criteria across the organization helps mitigate biases and ensures that employees understand how their compensation is determined.

Some companies also choose to promote salary transparency by openly sharing salary ranges for different roles within the organization. This transparency helps ensure that pay decisions are based on objective criteria rather than subjective factors or biases. This can actually help you attract talent in general, with many of the younger generations saying they won’t even apply for a job unless the salary range is listed.  In fact, 85% of recent post-secondary graduates reported they are less likely to apply for a job if the company does not disclose the salary range in the job posting.

Creating a culture where salary is transparent and consistent means that women are able to make informed decisions about job roles and provides them with a better foundation from which to negotiate their salary. 


Create an overall culture of equity and inclusion

All of these disparate elements are only possible when you invest in an overall culture of inclusion, but more importantly, equity. I’ve written before about what equity means, but to summarize, Gallup defines equity as “fair treatment, access and advancement for each person in an organization. This definition considers the historical and sociopolitical factors that affect opportunities and experiences so that policies, procedures and systems can help meet people's unique needs without one person or group having an unfair advantage over another.”



Investing in a culture that puts equity and inclusion at the forefront yields immeasurable benefits not just for women, but for any marginalized group striving for equality. Such a culture ensures equal opportunities for advancement, recognition, and career growth, levelling the playing field for women alongside their male counterparts. Furthermore, by prioritizing fairness and respect, inclusive cultures mitigate the risk of gender-based discrimination or bias in critical processes such as hiring, promotion, and decision-making.

When women feel valued and included within their workplace, their engagement, motivation, and productivity soar, leading to enhanced business outcomes and overall organizational success. An inclusive environment also cultivates a sense of belonging and loyalty among women employees, reducing turnover rates and retaining valuable talent within the organization. And, by embracing diverse perspectives and experiences, inclusive workplaces promote innovation, effective problem-solving, and heightened creativity. Ultimately, this inclusive approach not only fosters professional growth but also contributes to the improved well-being of women, resulting in a healthier and more positive work environment for all.

International Women's Day serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing journey towards gender equality and inclusivity in all spheres of life, including the workplace. This year's theme of "Inspire Inclusion" is a call to action to create environments where every individual, regardless of gender or other characteristics, feels valued, respected, and empowered to succeed. In the context of business, inclusion is paramount for fostering equal opportunities for advancement, recognition, and career growth.

Despite progress, women continue to face systemic barriers and disparities in the workplace, from wage gaps to limited career advancement opportunities and discrimination. Addressing these challenges is not only essential for promoting gender equality but also for unlocking the full potential of businesses and economies. By understanding the business case for inclusion, we can take meaningful steps toward building more equitable and prosperous workplaces for all.

As a content marketer and writer, I believe the best way to move forward with building an inclusive workplace is to read widely. Last year I created an International Women’s Day reading list centred around #EmbracingEquity. Here is an updated version of that list that can help you #InspireInclusion:

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