The below is a memo from Amy Binder to the RF|Binder team on International Women’s Day
Happy International Women’s Day! I couldn’t let today go by without taking a moment to reflect on the history of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month and why it is so important that we remember how far we have come.
International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed since 1911, starting in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, focusing on women’s right to work, vote and hold public office. In 2011, on the 100th anniversary, President Obama proclaimed March to be “Women’s History Month” calling Americans to leverage IWD to reflect on “the extraordinary accomplishments of women” in shaping the country’s history.
Having this moment to commemorate and appreciate the phenomenal contributions of so many women that came before us is critical. Recognizing not only the struggles but also the progress that women have made is an important reminder that continual progress cannot be taken for granted.
As a feminist and someone who has spent my entire life fighting for women empowerment, I am encouraged to see the rise of women in every aspect of society. As an entrepreneur and business woman myself, I believe economic empowerment is one of the fundamental ways for equity. It is encouraging to know that 40% of US businesses are women-owned, which is a 114% increase from just 20 years ago. Further, in some MBA programs women account for 50% or more of the graduating class and account for 41% of enrollment in full-time MBA programs, which is a huge improvement from the 27% from two decades ago when I went to business school.
However, like so many other movements, we still have a lot to accomplish – women only make up 150 of the 535 seats in US Congress, 12 out of the 50 Governors in the US are women and if you look at the number of women of color in office, these numbers decrease dramatically with only 10 in Congress and 0 Governors. There remains a large gap in pay equity as well. There is so much more progress that needs to be made to reach true gender equity.
Moreover, recently, gender equity, along with many other social justice issues, have unfortunately become politicized. As a result, we may temporarily be taking some steps backwards. Dobbs v. Jackson which repealed Roe v. Wade last year continues to be an assault on women’s and all human rights. Florida House Bill 99, which has recently been proposed, includes eliminating college majors in gender studies, nixing diversity efforts at universities and job protections for tenured faculty, strengthening parents’ ability to veto K-12 class materials and extending a ban on teaching about gender and sexuality. In Texas and Virginia, the Governors are talking about passing similar legislation. This is all quite frightening to me.
However, as so many of you know, I am a forever optimist. I believe we will make a positive impact and believe that business can be a force for good. As a women owned and operated firm, RF|Binder was founded on the values of inclusivity, empowering women, elevating diversity, and ensuring equity. Of our leadership management team, 50% of our Managing Directors and above are women and 60% of our Board are women. We continue to prioritize hiring talent from all backgrounds. Further, we have been tracking pay equity for years and we are at 100% pay equity, ensuring that everyone across the organization receives fair compensation, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability.
Each of us has the power and responsibility to make a positive difference – every small piece of change adds up. Change sometimes has to come through small steps forward. As citizens, we all have the right to vote and should exercise this right to influence who will take this fight to Congress and to our state legislatures. I encourage you to get involved with our Right to Vote Committee and take advantage of our civic engagement days, one of which is election day.
On this International Women’s Day and this Women’s History Month, let’s take time to reflect on and celebrate how far we’ve come. We also need to recognize the incredible progress that is still needed and acknowledge how each of us individually and collectively can support greater diversity, equity and inclusion for women of all backgrounds.
Onwards and upwards.