How to celebrate women’s suffrage and promote gender equality all the time, not just in 2020—and examine how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.
2020 is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and women earning the right to vote. While this is an important accomplishment to celebrate, women’s rights need to be celebrated not just in 2020.
In looking back to history, we learn more about the future. The women’s suffrage movement gives great insight to the challenges women continue to face in advancing gender equality.
To unpack women’s suffrage strategies to take us beyond 2020 for gender equality, I engaged a collaborator, Sally Perkins, in this discussion. Together, we did a four-part short video series. All videos are available on our Women’s Suffrage page.
What the past tells us about the future
The Real HERstory: It took 72-years to win the right to vote, and endurance was key to sustaining the battle for women’s suffrage. It was when women engaged men as allies, as they were the ones that could vote, that progress accelerated. In Corporate America today, men are the majority of decision makers and leaders in organizations. Engaging them in gender equality initiatives is key.
Intersectionality: Issues of gender are inseparable from race or other markers of diversity during women’s suffrage and now. White privilege and white supremacy were key factors separating women’s rights from racial rights. The divide and conquer strategy worked in the past, costing women of color the right to vote until much later than white women. Organizations today that address the intersections of the diversity experience excel against their industry peers. A testament to true gender equality is setting the tone for all humans be their full selves at work with dedicated brave places to talk about gender and racial intersectionality.
Distractions & Resilience: In the past, women’s suffragists faced delays with the Civil War and World War I. Today, budget cuts, business setbacks, and competing priorities slow down the advancement of gender equality. When an organization is deeply committed to women’s rights, it is a non-negotiable commitment regardless of business circumstances. It is the way business is done.
How to celebrate women’s suffrage beyond 2020
The past is bound to repeat itself if unchecked. Look back to our sister’s lessons learned from women’s suffrage and let’s not repeat their mistakes. Let’s look at the barriers they faced as opportunities to learn. Specifically, lead like an ally by:
- Engaging men as allies in women’s leadership initiatives. When men are involved, chances of success increase by 3X.
- Collaborating across races. Women of color cannot be left behind. Women are stronger together.
- Not accepting excuses for delays. It is always easier to kick the can and avoid prioritizing the real work for gender equality. Push your organization to commit especially when it is hard.
- Watching and sharing our free four-part Women’s Suffrage video series.
Like this content? Then, you will love my new book Lead Like an Ally. Click on the link to order your copy, watch complimentary videos, and begin your ally journey. A great place to start is by taking my free online assessment and printing my free inclusive leader checklist to kick start efforts at your organization.