Today, the 8th March, marks International Women’s Day, a worldwide celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women that has been observed since 1909. This year’s campaign theme is #PledgeForParity, and it’s estimated by The World Economic Forum that it will take around 117 years for gender parity to happen. Women continue to lag behind men in economic participation and opportunity by 15 – 25% in even the most gender-equal societies.

What are the female facts?

– According to McKinsey, companies across all sectors with the most women on their boards of directors significantly and consistently outperform those with no female representation “ by 41% in terms of return on equity and by 56% in terms of operating results

– Eliminating gender discrimination in relation to occupation and pay could increase women’s wages by about 50% and national output by 5%

– 57% is the proportion of first degree graduates that are women

– If women set up businesses at the same rate as men, there would be an extra 150,000 start-ups in the UK each year

– The 2012 median full-time gender pay gap for hourly earnings was 9.6%

– 43.6% of mothers (with dependent children) in employment, work full-time

Here at Sleeping Giant Media, around 43% of our growing workforce is female, and there are a lot of Kent based initiatives and organisations to benefit Kent Women in Business. The first, being the Kent Women in Business divisions, such as East Kent Women in Business and West Kent Women in Business. Both are small friendly networking groups, and include many women already running a diverse range of businesses. The networking groups are a safe environment for women to meet and discuss business issues, and WIB members can also promote their business via the WIB website.

In September 2015, Kent County Council introduced the Women’s Enterprise Kent programme, offering monthly seminars, classes & clinics with innovative speakers and leading technology experts, as well as support and advice from other women entrepreneurs and networking opportunities with leading Kent and Medway businesses.

Also in Kent is The Athena Network, an organisation that focuses exclusively on female executives and entrepreneurs. The Athena Network in Kent provides a platform for members to share knowledge and experience across a diverse range of industry sectors, and to collaborate for mutual success.

Last, but by no means least, are the Kent Women in Business Awards. In their 4th year, the KWiBAs look to celebrate the professional achievements of businesswomen in Kent. The KWiBas are not a voted competition, rather, finalists are selected based on the way their business is presented on the application form.

One thing that can certainly be said this International Women’s Day is that Kent is heading in the right direction toward gender parity! How are you celebrating International Women’s Day? Let us know in the comments.