March is Women’s History Month in the United States. This occasion gives you an opportunity to show your support for the women in your company, your appreciation for the contributions of women throughout history, and to become an ally for the women in your life.
Read on to learn more about this celebration and discover ways to celebrate Women’s History Month at work.
Origins of Women’s History Month
“Tremendous amounts of talent are being lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.”
– Shirley Chisholm
Women’s History Month is meant as an observance of women’s contributions to our shared history, culture, and society, as well as within our smaller communities, such as our neighborhoods and workplaces. It started small, as most history months do. Originally, it was a week-long celebration hosted by a school district in Sonoma, California. Year after year, more places observed Women’s History Week.
In 1980, President Carter declared the week of March 8 would be National Women’s History Week. The next year, Congress made it official. Then, six years after that, in 1987, it became Women’s History Month.
While March is only Women’s History Month in the United States, March 8 has been International Women’s Day since 1911. This date has been sponsored by the United Nations since 1975 and is celebrated around the world. So, if your company has an international reach, be certain to celebrate this specific date in addition to Women’s History Month itself.
Women’s history icons to celebrate
“Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men.”
– Katherine Johnson
- Harriet Tubman: Born into slavery, she secured her freedom and that of around 300 other enslaved people.
- Marie Curie: A pioneering physicist and scientist who discovered two new elements (radium and polonium).
- Eleanor Roosevelt: First lady, activist, and former chair of the U.N. Human Rights Commission.
- Grace Hopper: One of the first women to hold a Ph.D. in Mathematics and a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy.
- Lucille Ball: A trailblazing comedian and one of the most important figures in the history of television.
- Rosa Parks: Activist and key leader in the Civil Rights Movement.
- Katherine Johnson: Mathematician and critical player in the moon race of the 1960s.
- Shirley Chisholm: The first Black woman elected to congress.
- Maya Angelou: Actor, dancer, journalist, and one of the most important figures in modern American literature.
- Sandra Day O’Connor: The first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Rita Moreno: The only Latino – male or female – to earn the EGOT (an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony).
Why is it important to observe Women’s History Month in the workplace?
“I raise up my voice – not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard… We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”
– Malala Yousafzai
There is strength in unity. However, the whole is made of individual parts. Women’s History Month gives us the opportunity to recognize how women help to shape our shared culture, ideas, progress, and more. Diversity and inclusion is proven to drive better outcomes in workplaces for workers and managers alike.
While women have long made up a large portion of the workforce, they still face workplace discrimination, both direct and systemic. In celebrating Women’s History Month, you show that you are openly inclusive and help to facilitate a safer environment for your female employees to use their voices and shine.
Women’s History Month event ideas for work
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe
Perhaps you’ve been observing this celebration for decades. Or maybe this year will be your first foray into Women’s History Month events. Whether you already have some ideas or are not quite sure how to celebrate Women’s History Month in the workplace, we have you covered. Here are ideas for celebrating Women’s History Month in the workplace.
Host an allyship seminar
Listening to women’s voices is essential to not just celebrating Women’s History Month, but creating a more equitable workplace. However, the other side of the coin is that male and non-binary individuals also need to understand how to be allies to the women in their lives. The problem is that not everyone knows how to do this beyond being kind.
Rather than just focusing on the past, mark the first day of Women’s History Month by focusing on building a better future. With an allyship seminar, you can help your employees better understand authentic and profound ways they can support women at work – and in their lives as a whole. When approached in the right way, this can open up respectful dialogue while providing rich learning opportunities for all involved.
Book Women’s History Month & Allyship Virtual Seminar as part of your activities.
Learn more about women’s history
Everyone loves a good trivia night. Combine it with Women’s History Month for a fun and inclusive event. This is a great opportunity to highlight prominent figures, incredible stories, and all the events that deserve the recognition. As an added benefit, trivia can be done virtually, in person, or in a hybrid model, making it a great Women’s History Month celebration.
Book Trivia: Celebrate International Women’s Day.
Offer authentic support to women employees
While one-off events are fun, the best way to celebrate Women’s History Month at work is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of your female employees. To get this off the ground, have the women in your workplace take an anonymous survey that helps unearth the areas where they need greater support. While some of these will likely be general and overlap with male and non-binary employees as well, be sure to ask questions relating to things like menstruation support, maternity leave, and breastfeeding and pumping accommodations.
Buy from women-owned businesses
Here’s another way to make a real-life difference in your Women’s History Month activities for the workplace. Whenever you need a meal catered, gifts purchased, or a professional development seminar hosted, look for women-owned businesses and promote them to your workforce. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out women-owned businesses on Thriver.
With these ideas for how to celebrate Women’s History Month at work, you can show your support for women in your workplace while focusing on inclusion and diversity. Start planning your events to celebrate how women have shaped our world.
Image credit: Gemma Chua-Tran