Sarah Johnson, Founder of LOTUS


"This International Women’s Day is unlike any other.

International Woman’s Day is a time to celebrate women of our time or times gone by, it’s a time when businesses take the opportunity to celebrate their female champions.

It is also a time to reflect on the inequalities between men and women in the workplace. The pay gap, the ongoing lack of affordable state childcare, the glass ceiling and this year Scottish Widows have launched a campaign to highlight the disparity between state pensions for women and men.

On a macro scale it has been reported that the coronavirus has impacted women more than men across the globe. McKinsey reported that women’s jobs were 1.8x more vulnerable to the crisis than men. By July 2020, women represented 39% of the global work force but were responsible for 54% of the job losses. If no direct action is taken to redress this trend, Mckinsey estimate that by 2030, the global GDP could be $1trillion lower than if women’s unemployment tracked the same trend as men.

There are two reasons for this disparity. The gendered nature of work is responsible for 25% of the difference between job loss rates, but lack of systematic progress to resolve societal barriers for women explains the rest. This is shocking and has to change.

On a micro level we can see first-hand the impact coronavirus has had on our team. Mums juggling zoom calls, home schooling, keeping children entertained and calm in lockdown has been an immense challenge.

But the challenges haven’t been limited to mums.

We are living in a society now where gender norms are being challenged on many levels. Gender has more fluidity and there are a spectrum of gender identities that are not identified as male or female.

So this year should IWD be only for women? Or is it time for International Men’s Day? or Trans Day? or Non Binary Day?

My fear as we come out of lockdown is a general lack of tolerance. We have all been living small lives for a year, we have not socialised or been exposed to different people, their ways of living, breathing and thinking.

As a society I hope we can redress the inequalities of women and men in the workplace. It should be a given that opportunities are equal.

But I also hope that we can come out of our hidey holes, blinking in the sunlight, and we remember in the immortal words of Harry Styles, to treat people with kindness.

As the video for this song demonstrates, if women take the lead role with a cheeky smile and a sparkly Gucci top, that’s great. And if someone else does, that’s great too."