Happy Women’s History Month, YES Community!
Did you know that every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world to recognize women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity and fundraise for women-focused charities? This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge – as the campaign states, “A challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change.”
As a community, we were met with a challenge last month.
We learned that of the 140,000 jobs cut by US employers at the beginning of this year, women accounted for all the losses.
What a powerful reminder of the importance of our mission: To support the efforts of Dress for Success Columbus and to provide a space in which women can be empowered and supported to achieve career success.
Then we learned that 100% of the jobs lost belonged specifically to women of color.
Wow. What an even more powerful reminder that in addition to our efforts to fundraise, network and educate across our community, we have more work to do to ensure this space is responsive to the needs of those we serve, including an intentional focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Like Dress for Success, YES! Columbus values racial and gender equity and social justice.
Over the past month, we spent time reflecting internally. We built upon conversations we’ve had over the last year about living our values, and the opportunities to embed them into our programming, policy, and community.
We want YES to be a space where every woman in Central Ohio feels represented, valued, and empowered. This Women’s History Month, in celebration of International Women’s Day, we #ChooseToChallenge ourselves to be accountable and adapt to the needs of this moment.
Here are some of the preliminary actions we are taking:
- Partnering and aligning with organizations that are also pursuing gender & racial equity in our community: Our Executive Board is participating in YWCA Columbus’s 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge. Our goal is to not only amplify their meaningful work, but to continue our individual exploration issues of privilege, power, and leadership and how they manifest within our organization. We invite you to join us by accepting the challenge. And, follow us on Instagram as we share our own reflections on the resources shared. Stay tuned to our events calendar. We’ll be continuing to collaborate with organizations and individuals who are committed to the pursuit of equity and social justice.
- Centering the experience of historically underserved and underrepresented groups: In our March newsletter, we shared some of our current reads & listens all focused on topics of inclusion. My personal recommendation was Ciera Graham’s article for Career Contessa, Why Intersectionaly Matters More Than Ever. Her discussion of how intersectionality shows up in the workplace and what responsibility institutions and organizations can take to dismantle systemic barriers for women of color caused me to pause and reflect. As the article states, we’ll continue to “pay attention.” We’re asking ourselves, how can we better support and lift up the voices of our community? How can we provide a space for them to speak up without fear of consequences?
- Seeking feedback and providing support for a long-term commitment to improving: YES is committed to seeing tangible outcomes as a result of our actions around diversity, equity, and inclusion. As we demonstrate progress or encounter challenges, we commit to sharing results and seeking input from our community. If you have feedback, suggestions, or questions, we encourage you to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org, or DM us on any of our social media platforms!
We look forward to the opportunity to improve and advance in our mission to empower women throughout the city of Columbus.