International Women's Day Thoughts from our CMO | Visible

From the mind and tablet of Minjae Ormes, Visible’s Chief Marketing Officer. Follow Minjae on LinkedIn

My first experience with International Women’s Day was almost 20 years ago, when I happened to be on a trip to Italy, where every woman was handed a bouquet of yellow flowers as the day went on. I remember it as a pleasant day, and certainly didn’t mind being courted and celebrated. But the thrill of being at the center of attention dissipated just as quickly as it began, with many more wilted yellow flowers strewn about on the cobblestone streets the very next day.

I’ve been thinking about what exactly I wanted to say for this year’s International Women’s Day. And I keep coming back to this image of the wilted, yellow flowers; a reminder of how ephemeral that celebration had been. It reminded me that while we have made some notable progress towards gender equity, it is happening at a pace still too slow, and far too fragile.

In 2021, we have greater representation of women in leadership positions in government and corporate entities, including Vice President Kamala Harris who is the first Black, first Asian American, and the first woman to sit in this office; a record number of 143 women in Congress though still just a little over a quarter of the entire body of representatives; and a record number of women CEOs amongst Fortune 500 companies, which makes up about 6% of all CEO seats. And even then, studies show that even the highest paid senior executives earned 84.6 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts, and at the current pace, corporate boards won’t hit gender parity for another 10 years.

In order for more girls and women to imagine their future as something that’s not just incrementally better tomorrow, we need to confront some fundamental challenges and commit to making step changes today. We cannot ignore the realities of the more than 2.3 million American women who had no choice but to leave the workforce since the beginning of the pandemic; the realities of Black and Hispanic women for whom the unemployment rate increases exponentially; and as women took on the burdens of the pandemic over the past 12 months, the dire realities of American families for whom only 19% are afforded the access to paid family leave through work, plus the implicit gender bias that often corners men to take on an average of only 10 days of paid family leave even with more generous policies; and the realities of regressive policies of the past four years that continue to impede on women’s sexual and reproductive rights in the United States. The sum of these negative impacts not only hit women and their individual situations, but also everyone these women provide for and support. As such, we need to confront it as a generational and cultural crisis that requires the efforts of both women and men to create structural and lasting changes.

I am immensely grateful for my incredibly supportive family, and proud of the inclusive work culture, policies, and colleagues at Visible, all of whom give me the space to show up as a strong woman in my own terms. But today, it is also with a fair bit of impatience and urgency that I think about those yellow flowers—traditionally given to women on International Women’s Day as a symbol of strength and sensibility—because there’s still so much work to be done for every girl and woman to not only survive, but thrive, for generations to come.