In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we encourage all of you to join us as we #ChooseToChallenge.

This year, IWD comes at a very important time. The impact of the pandemic on women, especially women of color, is staggering. Women make up 39 percent of global employment, but account for 54 percent of overall job losses (McKinsey & Company). This is due in part to the fact that women are disproportionately represented in industries that are expected to decline the most due to the pandemic. Of equal concern is the burden of domestic work – which has exploded in 2020 with no end in sight. Another study by McKinsey & Company found that one in three mothers have considered leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers due to the pandemic. Further, research (Payscale) shows when women leave the workforce and return to the same position they can expect a 7 percent pay penalty for the extended absence.

If these trends continue, there will be severe consequences for all people – including lesser GDP growth, a widening wage gap, a hit to retirement savings, and a near reversal of hard-won gains for gender equality.

“We will foster an environment of belonging, education, and support by building a culture of growth and opportunity for women in the organization and beyond, through diversity of thought and experience that will create continued opportunities in leadership and enhance Xylem’s competitive advantage.”

Xylem Women Network Vision Statement

So how do we Choose to Challenge this reality?

First, we gather those who are most impacted to discuss the issues. At Xylem, this means we build strong employee resource groups and give these groups the power to advocate for change. The Xylem Women’s Network originated in 2016 and has grown to what is now 14 chapters across Xylem globally, with more than 1,200 members.

The group is now a community that centers our focus and events on four objectives: professional development, career advancement, diversity of thought and experience, and service. While we also host great social gatherings and book clubs focused on women in the workplace, we are the proudest of our work advocating for change, lifting up our female colleagues, and supporting our local community. 

This International Women’s Day, our women’s network is activating roundtables with employees and leaders across the organization to discuss issues we must choose to challenge. Hearing directly from our diverse employee base on the issues that matter most is crucial for ensuring we are building an inclusive and equitable place to work.

We are looking forward to the Xylem Women’s Network continuing to grow and help both our colleagues, as well as the communities we serve. With that, we are pleased to announce Carolina Berg and Amy Ross will be taking over our role as co-chairs on the Xylem Women’s Network steering committee. Amy and Carolina will build on this group’s important work and be an important connection point to our customers and partners who want to get involved. We invite you to #ChooseToChallenge with us, by posting a picture with a selfie card and tagging us on social media.  

Learn more about Xylem’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion here.