International Women’s Day 2023: #ShowUpWithPurpose for 365 days

Icon Agency celebrates IWD 2023
International Women's Day panellists

(Left to right) Kathleen Gunther, Marketing Director. Kate Griffiths, Group Account Director. Brigitte Barta, Associate Director of Digital Content. Iva Dujmovic, UX Designer. Carmen Famularo, UX/UI Designer. Shannon O'Neill, Director of Digital and Social Media.

International Women’s Day 2023: We’re committing to #ShowUpWithPurpose for 365 days instead

In the lead-up to International Women’s Day this year, the industry movement “Fck the Cupcakes” sparked conversation not only in the media but in boardrooms across Australia.

The pink frosted cupcake has become a symbol for empty corporate gestures aimed at ‘supporting’ women. Surely it’s time that our $1.5bn industry, realised its power in Australian culture and led the way with meaningful action, rather than continuing to ice over systemic ongoing issues like the gender pay gap, ingrained biases and tech facilitated abuse.

Cracking the code

Aligning with this year’s UN Women’s theme, Cracking the Code, Icon held a panel-led discussion to break down the barriers around gender equality. The panel featured insights from Icon's staff, sparking brave and enlightening conversations whilst highlighting some worrying realities and regressions women are still fighting in 2023.

The word “code” can refer to many different gender inequalities, including workplace industry connections, patterns, and norms. One alarming norm is that despite positive recent movements, on average, men are still paid 13% more than women.

More worryingly, one fifth of Australians don’t believe that gender inequality exists!

Gender bias is still clearly pervasive in many workplaces, permeating all levels of business operation, including hiring practices. Group Account Director, Kate Griffiths, who hosted our panel shared that this divide is now being perpetuated through biased AI recruitment tools that favour showing high paying roles to men over women.

Still, the majority of leadership positions/executive roles are filled by men and still those ‘small’ jobs of cleaning the kitchen/office space and meeting rooms tends to fall on women.

For a supposedly developed nation, it's mind-blowing how archaic our workplaces can be.

It makes me wonder: do these inequalities arise because women are too polite? Is it because we lack authority? Or, is it because we are conditioned to accept lesser treatment?

Perhaps a confluence of factors.

Women aren’t always in a position where they feel empowered to call things out. But it isn’t only women who often feel unable to speak up. Men do too.

Rob Cleeve, Icon's Director of Sales, spoke on the panel about the critical role that men can play in contributing to positive change through ‘allyship’. Rob discussed some key points surrounding the Fck the Cupcake movement, including actions men can take to make a difference.

International Women's Day

Ally segment by Sales Director, Rob Cleeve

How can men speak up and be the change?

  1. Listening. Be all ears when a woman speaks, and don’t be afraid of judgement if you have questions. The negative connotation around the word ignorant isn’t always deserved: there’s nothing wrong with ignorance if it leads to curiosity and improvement. It’s better to educate yourself by asking questions than sit back and say nothing at all.
  2. Become aware of when bias may be taking place. Listening to female perspectives and comparing them to yours, may expose your own unconscious biases. Ask yourself, does it feel right? Do you think that women have a disadvantage?
  3. SPEAK UP! Be brave. The stigma around ‘boys' clubs’ must be broken and we need to normalise calling people out when they are misogynistic. If it doesn’t look right—if a woman looks hurt or uncomfortable—do something.

These actions can really make a difference! As a panel member, Brigitte Barta, Associate Director of Digital Content at Icon said, “there’s a crack in everything, and that’s how light gets in.”

The light we can bring starts with consistent, conscious practice. This light through the crack offers hope, problem-solving, enlightenment, and opportunity for change. So, let’s crack this code together!

At Icon, we are aware of the challenges in the workforce and are consciously working towards an unbias, gender-equal future. Hosting an International Women’s Day event wasn’t to tick something off the list, we celebrate women every day, and our actions toward this are a constant practice. One of our values as an agency is curiosity and we fundamentally believe ongoing curiosity is the core part of ‘cracking the code’. As an agency we explore ways to improve and grow, giving everyone no matter how they identify a voice.

I feel so grateful to be in a working environment that has women in leadership positions, who demonstrate strong values and morals in an equal and fair workplace. Although, the reality is that a lot of women do not have this privilege. I stand with women: with all women who face these harsh realities every day. But it’s time to make a difference: it’s time for action.

Let’s swap the unconscious for conscious. Let’s reach out to each other, earlier. Let’s start talking even when we’re not sure of the solution.

International Women's Day panel Melbourne & Sydney

International Women's Day panel live across Melbourne and Sydney

- Mia Calder, Account Executive