Little 7 year old boy paints greeting card for Mom on Mother's Day with the inscription "Mother's Day". Outdoors. Mother's Day

This Mother’s Day commit to becoming an advocate

Mother’s Day in the United States was established in the early 19th century as an annual holiday celebrated on the second Sunday in May. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the day is a widely observed national holiday to “recognize and appreciate mothers’ roles in our lives. Often this day is extended to generations of mothers—grandmothers, great-grandmothers, stepmothers—as well as to mother figures.”

This year, Mother’s Day is May 9, 2021. Given the realities of the past year, many of us are rethinking how to celebrate the women in our lives.

Of course, most moms will say they just want to spend time with their families. Families all over the country are planning calls, brunches and visits to honor the role of mothers.

But before you finalize your plans and put that card in the mail, consider what else you can do to support the women in your life. If the past year taught us anything, it’s that history is riddled with injustices and inequalities that need fixing. There are barriers baked into the system that hold people back, allow them to be paid less or thwart their ability to be themselves at work and fully contribute.

How can we celebrate differently?

This year, let’s ask how we can more fully support the women in our lives.

Men, you’ve seen the headlines. Women left the workplace in record numbers in 2020, and they also are shouldering more of the domestic work and childcare. Even though men have stepped up, women are still doing almost twice as much as their male partners. In addition, the gender pay gap is real and the lifetime impact of a woman’s pay — both on the woman and the economy — is VERY real in terms of earnings, savings and spending. To drive the point home, the woman in the Zoom tile on your 10 a.m. call may also be someone’s mother, daughter, girlfriend or aunt. These headlines don’t just affect “other people” — they critically impact people that you know and work with every day.

This Mother’s Day, join me in taking action to address workplace gender inequities. In 2015, I created the Father of Daughter Initiative as a simple opt-in program to engage men as advocates for women’s advancement. To participate, men commit to doing a minimum of one thing (hopefully more) to advance women in the workplace.

Support the women in your life by being an advocate for change

The Father of Daughter Initiative is a roadmap for men to help make the connection between women at work and their daughters and the world they will someday enter. It encourages men to take action to bring about change for the women in their lives. Some actions include encouraging women to apply for positions when they become available, mentoring or sponsoring a female co-worker, having a candid conversation with a female co-worker about her experiences working at the company and becoming aware of and correcting microaggressions in the workplace.

Of course, you don’t need to be the father of a daughter to advocate for change. Some people like the personal connection. Others will want to get involved for other reasons. At the end of the day, each of us has our personal reasons for advocating for women. I’ve expanded the pledge options to include these entry points to advocate for women:

To get started, select the pledge that resonates with you, click on the link to print out a PDF for you to sign, and hang it in your office. This single act will serve to demonstrate to colleagues that they can approach you as a coach, mentor, sponsor and concerned co-worker. And it will serve as a reminder of how you can advocate on a daily basis.

Not sure where to begin? Take the YWomen Advocacy Profile. This quiz was designed to help you understand where you are currently and how you put your beliefs into action on a daily basis.

Most importantly, get to work! Select an action and get started. Make a commitment to Listen, Learn, Lead and Have the Will to pursue change.

Let’s make 2021 the year we TAKE ACTION to make our workplaces (and the world!) more equitable.

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What actions will you take to ensure that women — and all people — can offer their full potential and contribution to the world around them?

Happy Mother’s Day!

Jeffery