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Celebrating Women’s History Month and Advocating for EDI

March is Women’s History Month. For decades, this event has been about “commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.”

The Background of Women’s History Month

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential statement asking the American people to recognize National Women’s History Week between March 2 and March 8. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued another presidential statement, proclaiming the week of March 7 as National Women’s History Week.

Five years later, President Reagan – with congressional approval – proclaimed March as Women’s History Month. His action was the result of petitions from The National Women’s History Project, which later became the National Women’s History Alliance, to Congress.

The National Women’s History Alliance is the only organization providing information and training in multicultural women’s history. It provides education for teachers, community organizations and parents wanting to expand their understanding of women’s contributions to U.S. history.

The National Women’s History Alliance has also created resources to help others educate and celebrate National Women’s History. For example, there is the 2024 Women’s History Tool Kit and a sample proclamation for organizations.

The 2024 Theme for Women’s History Month: Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

This year, the theme for Women’s History Month is “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).” According to the National Women’s History Alliance, “The theme recognizes women throughout the country who understand that, for a positive future, we need to eliminate bias and discrimination from our lives and institutions.”

By choosing this theme, the National Women’s History Alliance recognizes the example of “women committed to embracing everyone and excluding no one in our quest for freedom and opportunity.” This organization also says that equity, diversity and inclusion is a powerful driving force with a wide range of impacts on the U.S.

Related: DEI Training and How It Can Benefit Your Company Culture

The Importance of EDI Advocacy

Women know that there is an unfair playing field in society that doesn’t support EDI. They are starting to create programs and projects in many arenas to enable women to experience a sense of true belonging.

So why is it important to advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion? Advocating for DEI ensures women have equal opportunities in the workplace and in society. 

Numerous benefits can come from creating a diverse, equal, and inclusive space for women to strive and grow professionally and personally. Events such as Women’s History Month foster innovation by incorporating women’s unique perspectives and experiences into the workplace and into society. That inclusion leads to improved decision-making through diverse viewpoints and increases women’s job satisfaction as women feel more valued.

Also, companies with strong diversity, equity and inclusion principles are more likely to attract and retain top female talent, maintain a positive reputation, and comply with anti-discrimination laws, all while promoting social equity. Additionally, such companies often see enhanced profitability and are better equipped to handle global market changes, making EDI advocacy a moral imperative and a strategic business advantage.

The doors for all industries must be opened to women. Several industries, such as education, healthcare, coaching and nonprofits, are known for the strong presence of women.

These industries employ large numbers of women and often have initiatives to support and promote women. However, other industries – such as construction, transportation, technology and manufacturing – still have a low female presence.

However, it’s important to note that the presence of women in these industries is not static. Many organizations and industries actively work to improve gender diversity through various initiatives and policies, but all employers should follow suit.

Related: Driving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Higher Education

Advocating for Greater Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for Women

So what can be done to advocate for greater equity, diversity and inclusion for women? Advocating for equity, diversity, and inclusion for women involves creating workplace and social organization environments where women have equal opportunities and are actively supported.

Here are a few ways to advocate:

  • Policy development and implementation: Enact and enforce organizational policies that ensure fair treatment and opportunities for women in the workplace.
  • Leadership and representation: Promote women’s participation in leadership roles through targeted mentorship and development programs.
  • Education and awareness: Offer training to address unconscious biases and educate people on the value of gender diversity and inclusion.
  • Networking and support groups: Facilitate the creation of networks and support groups that provide women with platforms for connection and mutual support.
  • Measure and report progress: Implement a system for tracking and openly reporting on the progress of EDI initiatives to maintain accountability and focus.

These steps can help organizations create a supportive environment where women can thrive equally and contribute to their fullest potential. As a woman who has championed and benefited from EDI for women, I appreciate the work that has been done, the work that is being done, and the work that will be done in the future.

I look forward to a time when the importance of women’s contributions to the workplace, society and history is celebrated first. During Women’s History Month and throughout the year, I thank the women who fought to bring us where we are and those women who are fighting to take us to where we are going.

Dr. Aikyna Finch is a faculty member at the University. She received a doctorate of management, an MBA in technology management and an executive MBA from Colorado Technical University. Dr. Finch also has an M.S. in management in marketing from Strayer University, an M.S. in information systems in IT project management from Strayer University and a B.S. in aeronautical technology in industrial electronics from the School of Engineering at Tennessee State University. She is a podcaster, coach, author and speaker. Dr. Finch is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and a contributor to Huffington Post, Goalcast, Forbes, and Thrive Global. She can be found at DrADFinch on all social media platforms.

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