It’s Women’s History Month!

I had a feeling of overwhelm just a few days ago.  Women’s history month is always busy. I’m sure my fellow women business owners can relate to the influx of invites to speak at or attend events. On top of that is the pressure to come up with content to celebrate women’s history month and to answer the question, as my son asked me on International Women’s Day, “Why is there a women’s day?”

I answered that women are more likely to be in poverty than men. They are more likely to be victims of climate change.  In the current Russian war on Ukraine, and historically in wars generally, women are more likely to be refugees and Ukrainian women are fighters for their country as well.

If you doubt I told my seven year old all that, we haven’t met! It’s nice to meet you and I’m glad you’re here. It was pretty heavy and so I showed him how we celebrate the achievements of women (primarily on social media).

Still I also felt heavy. I had a feeling these social media opportunities are ultimately pink washing what is still an unjust system.

On top of that, we are headed to a new phase of the pandemic. It’s not over but we want it to be. Russia’s war with Ukraine is horrifying. The coverage of the war reveals our bias (at best) toward a certain kind of European in crisis.

As students of history, including women’s history, we can look back and say humanity has gotten through worse, even in darkest times there were bright spots. But then climate change provides a variable in the humans + time = progress equation. We know we’re running out of time to significantly change climate outcomes. We have some idea what that will mean but it’s unknowable.

It’s overwhelming, right? This women’s history month, looking back at a few of the historical milestones in my own life provided me some perspective. And social media on International Women’s Day provided an unexpected bright spot.

Women’s History Month Events Past and Present

I attended the WBEC DMV Awards ceremony earlier in the month. In a nod to pandemic safety, the event was still virtual.

This event marks also the last event I attended in person before the pandemic lockdowns so it holds a special place in my heart and my psyche. The last in-person awards ceremony was held in early March 2020 in New York City. I took the train up and back. I organized a dinner for clients and friends the night before and we chatted about the virus. We discussed ways to avoid getting to sick but we were not yet wearing masks or distancing.

At the event in the morning, we half-heartedly did fist and elbow bumps in a nod to safety but we had no idea what we were in for. My friend Stefanie said, “We will look back at this moment and think we were crazy to be so worried, or crazy to even be here.”  We know how that turned out.

Events in 2022

Zooming forward in time to this year’s event, Sandra Eberhard led us in a moment of shared reflection on the war in Ukraine and the resilience of the Ukrainian people. It was another moment that will place the event in a specific historical moment.  Then the event proceeded as usual and the organization recognized the people who have made a difference in the organization.

One of the highest honors WBEC DMV bestows on the women’s business enterprises is the WBE Star award given to “an outstanding certified WBEs that have actively participated in WBEC NY & DMV programs and events, supported other women in business, and developed innovative solutions for doing business with Corporate Members and other WBEs.”

I won!

It was my honor to receive this year’s Star Award from WBEC DMV.

The event also marked another historical milestone for me, as this year is the 20th anniversary of my starting my career with WBEC NY (then WPEO).  I was also honored with fellow awardees, Anna Hakobyan of Astra Zeneca, Dee Marshall of Diverse and Engaged,  Dr. Sandi Webster of Dr. Sandi Webster Coachsulting, Erika Small-Sisco and Deborah Gittens of Old Dominion Women’s Business Center, Dominion Energy and Capital One.

So my advice to you is to win an award! Not really. You don’t get awards for being the best so much as for giving your best. Winning was a reminder to keep doing that, keep giving back.

Another thing my seven year old said to me was, “When you can help someone else, it’s going to be a good day.”  I think he’s got that right.

Social Media on International Women’s Day

So normally when things feel bleak, social media is not usually the answer. Twitter is probably never the answer but a couple of things did stand out to me.

No to all-male teams

On international women’s day, Bain, one of the world’s leading private multi-asset alternative investment firms with approximately $155 billion of assets under management, tweeted about their newly launched crypto fund and the team behind it.

In the tweet , you can see on the left an all-male team (one tweet compared it to a page from a men’s catalog) and on the right the apology for having no women on the team or anywhere in the vicinity to say, MAYBE NOT ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

While this a nice piece of tweeter-fraude, it did result in adding at least one woman on the team. It is revealing of just how isolated the people in charge of real money are. It may have also sparked a little self-reflection in these guys.

Speaking of real money – gender pay gaps

My friend British friend, Andrea, clued me into this other bright spot early on International Women’s Day.  @paygapapp uses UK data so it made a bigger splash in Europe but DEI organizations in the U.S. also took note.

PayGapApp told organizations that they would quote-tweet their international women’s day tweets with the gaps in pay equity for each organization. The result left the social media departments of large organizations in shambles.

Seeing people in real life

So that’s just about enough social media – I hope you didn’t start doom scrolling if you followed those links. Time to get out there and see real people, in a way that feels safe for you.

My friend Stefanie and I will be seeing each other in person at the end of this month adding another pandemic milestone to our shared history.  We made it and our businesses made it. We are moving forward and bringing other women with us.

But we can’t always light up every dark spot, unfortunately. Progress happens maddeningly slowly and is never guaranteed to stick. But progress does happen. The women we celebrate on women’s history month would likely find some ways to point out how good we have it.

So find a way to give back, to call out, find your friends and find the bright spots. It helped me with the overwhelm.  I hope it helps you too.