Inspire Inclusion | International Women’s Day 2024

On March 8th, we will celebrate the 113th International Women’s Day since the first IWD in 1911, and the 49th IWD since the day was formalised by the United Nations.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is #InspireInclusion.

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) are high on the list of priorities for many organisations these days. However, just because they are on our minds does not necessarily mean they are genuinely implemented or have a real impact on our day-to-day activities. 

According to a 2023 article in Forbes magazine, companies that prioritise DEIB have higher net profits, better employee and customer satisfaction, and lower turnover rates

It begs the question: what’s stopping other organisations from setting and achieving DEIB goals?


Mentors are crucial for professional growth and development. They inspire us, introduce us to their networks, and sponsor us for new opportunities. 

When it comes to women in leadership, the issue perhaps is not that there are not enough women who strive to be leaders, but that men in leadership positions are not mentoring a diverse pool of potential leaders.  

According to Lean In, an initiative for women’s equity by the Sandberg Goldberg Bernthal Family Foundation, 60% of male managers in the US and 40% in the UK are uncomfortable mentoring young women and/or uncomfortable participating in 1-on-1 socialisation with women

Studies have also shown that you are more likely to mentor someone who you see yourself in. When asked, Azon leaders agreed. From former managers, to university professors, to parents and family members, 71% of Azon’s leadership team came from a similar background as a memorable role model from their early career. 

Think back to a mentor or role model in your early career... Do you come from a similar background as that person? This can include education, place of birth, gender, etc. A pie chart to the right shows that 14% said "I don't know", 14% said "no", 71 % said "yes".

So… How do we achieve genuine change in our businesses to support women?

Open Communication

Kincaid in Forbes highlights low engagement and lack of psychological safety as signs that employees do not feel a genuine sense of belonging in their workplace. 

When employees do not feel safe being transparent with leaders about their experiences or needs, it cannot be surprising that morale is negatively affected. 

By creating an environment where people feel supported, says one Azon leader, they in turn feel comfortable being themselves. 

Our leadership team agrees that open communication starts from the top down. Through roundtable discussions and collaboration across teams, employees start to feel a genuine sense of belonging. Inclusion, therefore, starts with managers leading by example, being approachable, and actively listening to the needs of staff. 

Encourage Inclusive Leadership

Barriers to inclusion and belonging may not be recognisable without a diverse leadership table. One Azon leader says when different perspectives are represented, we have a greater chance of avoiding narrow thinking and herd mentality, and we are more representative of the world we live in. 

We want our leadership team to fully reflect the wider team. Junior team members should have someone they can relate to at a senior level. These senior team members should be happy to support and mentor other employees which in turn improves morale, performance, and results. 

If we are all trained in a similar way by the same people, it is unlikely that our methods will evolve to be better.

Assess Internal Policies and Practices

Inclusion means recognising everyone’s different needs and making accommodations to create equitable opportunities. Through diverse leadership, we are better able to recognise inequities in policies and make changes to business practices to better support women and minorities in the workplace. 

When asked about changes they have seen in policy during their careers, the men in Azon did not see any changes that have made the workplace more inclusive. 

However, the women of the group did not agree. 

Presentations relating to Pride and International Women’s Day bring these topics to light and encourage us to think critically about DEIB. They also serve to identify a peer who members of minority communities in the business can turn to for guidance. 

Hybrid work and flexibility create favourable conditions for employees who require it. Changes in benefits, healthcare, and maternity/paternity leave similarly improve morale and create an inviting workplace. A lot of work is also being done to address and rectify the gender pay gap across many industries. 

All of this being said, CEO Ronan Colleran puts it plainly that in general, businesses in Ireland want to be seen to be diverse rather than actually be diverse. 

Written by Kaitlin Watson, Marketing and Events Executive.

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