How brands are pushing for change to mark International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day offers a chance for brands to push their female-focused agenda and demand change. From Adidas and Amazon to P&G and Diageo, we take a look at what businesses are doing to mark the occasion.

From ending period poverty to helping female creatives return to work, today (8 March) marks International Women’s day, and a flurry of brands are joining the movement to help empower, celebrate and support women and their achievements.

However, despite the fact a number of organisations are working hard to push for gender equality there’s still a long way to go in terms of closing the gender pay gap and shifting the representation of women in advertising.

Here, we take a look at what brands are doing to mark the day and drive change more generally.

Amazon launches programme to boost gender diversity and inclusion

Amazon has revealed a new programme called Amazon Amplify, which is designed to help boost gender diversity and inclusion across its UK business.

As part of the scheme, the online retailer is hoping to increase the number of women in technology and innovation roles by building on existing diversity-focused initiatives at the company, including programmes to ensure diverse interview panels.

The initiative comes as research, which Amazon commissioned from Wise, finds nine in 10 female innovators experience some barriers to their innovation careers, with 26% experiencing more barriers than enablers.

Another 66% of women working in the UK’s innovation economy have had to overcome challenges on their own to succeed in their careers, with just 22% saying they have received support from their employers.

Amazon Amplify also aims to further increase the recruitment and retention of female employees, encourage more women to consider careers in technology and innovation, and help prevent some of the biggest barriers to career progression.

“Diversity fosters greater innovation and helps raise the bar for customers, and having a diverse workforce is also just the right thing to do,” says Fiona McDonnell, director of consumer retail at Amazon and chair of the cross-industry Women in Innovation Advisory Committee.

Diageo creates short film highlighting issues around inclusion and diversity in marketing

Diageo is launching a short film to coincide with International Women’s Day as it looks to drive gender equality in its advertising.

The film, which features Diageo CMO Syl Saller, explores the role of advertising in shaping culture, the historic misrepresentation of women, and strategies and partnerships to support more progressive gender portrayal in content.

It also highlights the significance of diversity in the advertising industry by featuring the organisations working to address imbalances behind the camera and in creative departments.

Saller says: “I am convinced we can normalise gender equality with what we choose to show in our ads, and who we choose to make them. We strongly believe that diverse teams create all kinds of different stories, stories which portray men and women as they really are, stories that are eminently relatable.”

The film is released as 50 women take part in the Creative Equals ‘Returners’ scheme, #CreativeComeback, which is designed to support women in the creative industries in the UK who are returning to work after a year-long break.

READ MORE: Diageo puts spotlight on lack of gender equality in advertising

Always kicks off renewed drive to end period poverty

Global feminine care brand Always is continuing in its bid to end period poverty with a month-long donation campaign to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Always’ initial #EndPeriodPoverty campaign saw more than 14 million sanitary items sent to school aged girls in need in the UK, and this year the Procter & Gamble (P&G) owned brand is once again partnering with The Red Box Project to raise awareness of the issue and help tackle the stigma still surrounding periods.

The programme started after a survey by Always found almost one in five girls in the US have either left school early or missed school because they didn’t have access to period products, meaning they have fallen behind. They have also had to forgo sporting activities.

In the UK, Always says thousands of British pupils regularly miss school because they cannot afford menstrual hygiene products and 52% of women who have experienced period poverty say this has had a direct effect on their success, confidence and happiness as an adult.

“The support from Always last year was totally brilliant and made a great contribution to our projects’ level of product. We are currently working on a legal campaign, in partnership with Free Periods calling on the UK government to provide free and universal access to menstrual products,” says Clegg Bamber, co-founder of The Red Box Project.

The company says for any Always pad or Tampax tampon products purchased online or in-store at participating retailers from today until 21 April, Always will make one period product donation to UK school girls and women.

This donation will be active in participating Tesco, Boots, Superdrug and Sainsbury stores across the UK.

Guinness celebrate women in its first campaign as Women’s Six Nations sponsor

Guinness is celebrating becoming an official partner of the 2019 Women’s Six Nations with a new ad campaign following the rivalry between two rugby playing sisters on opposing national teams.

Released to coincide with International Women’s Day and the England vs Scotland match, the spot titled ‘Sisters’ tells the real-life story of siblings Harriet and Bridget Millar-Mills. The pair grew up playing rugby together until 2013 when they squared-off in the Women’s Six Nations on opposing teams. One of the sisters was drafted to England and the other to Scotland.

Sisters is the latest advert in Guinness’ ‘Made of More’ series and is the brand’s first campaign championing players from the women’s game.

The brand’s interest in the women’s game supports its six-year deal as title sponsor of the men’s Six Nations Championship.

READ MORE: Guinness Celebrates debut partnership with women’s six nations.

Notonthehighstreet partners with the Prince’s Trust to empower female entrepreneurs

Online gift retailer Notonthehighstreet is partnering with youth charity The Prince’s Trust to help empower young women with creative and entrepreneurial flair.

Through the partnership Notonthehighstreet will offer the expertise and experience of its employees to help give young women the encouragement they need to succeed as research shows many suffer from self-confidence issues.

Notonthehighstreet has also launched a new product range to coincide with International Women’s Day and raise funds for the Trust’s ‘Women Supporting Women’ initiative.

The collection has been created by female entrepreneurs and 10% of proceeds made from each product sold will be donated to The Prince’s Trust.

Notonthehighstreet is also launching a mentor programme to “support, nurture and inspire” up to 60 young women from The Prince’s Trust’s network who will design their own collection for the Women Supporting Women range during the three-year partnership.

PayPal champions women with sit-down discussion on gender equality

As part of International Women’s Day’s #BalanceforBetter campaign, PayPal has unveiled a film featuring female business leaders discussing their experiences and ideas on how to bring gender balance into the workplace.

PayPal’s chief business affairs and legal officer, Louise Pentland, invites five female business leaders and chief executives to offer insights into how they believe companies can achieve a better gender-balanced environment. The women reflect on the fact that correcting gender imbalance is not simply a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.

At PayPal women account for 37% of VP roles globally, up 9% from 2015, and they make up 43% of its global workforce.

Throughout the month of March, PayPal is also highlighting female-run businesses by sharing their stories via PayPal.com/IWD. For every eligible purchase made at select retailers, PayPal will donate $2 to causes that support women until 23 March.

Adidas pushes for equality in sport

Just 4% of sports media coverage in the US is dedicated to women and Adidas wants to change that.

As part of the second phase of its She Breaks Barriers initiative, the sportswear giant has unveiled a film featuring four athletes and ESPN host Maria Taylor, which calls for equal media representation for women in sport.

In the film, Utah Royals defender Becky Sauerbrunn, 100m hurdles world record holder Keni Harrison, WNBA point guard Layshia Clarendon and marathon runner Rahaf Khatib speak about why seeing women in sport is important as a number of young athletes seek out female sports in the media.

“We believe she needs to see strong female role models to inspire her to pursue her dreams. As part of our continued efforts to increase visibility for women and girls in sport, we have committed to ensuring that we will have equal gender representation across our owned social channels. This is the first step in changing how we will approach content creation in the future,” says Nicole Vollebregt, senior vice-president of global purpose for Adidas.

The campaign is part of Adidas’s continued commitment to raise awareness of issues and break down the barriers that stand between girls and sport, including a lack of access, negative stereotypes, visibility and inequality.

YouGov reveals the most popular brand among British women

Heinz tomato ketchup

Heinz has leapfrogged Boots and John Lewis to be named the most popular brand among British women, according to YouGov’s brand rankings, with a score of 53.7.

Last year’s winner Boots dropped to second place after its rating decreased by 1.3 points to 52.9. Meanwhile, Ikea climbed from seventh place to third with a score of 52.2, just one position ahead of John Lewis (51.6), which dropped to fourth place from second spot last year.

Heinz is one of only three food brands to make the top 10. It’s joined by Lindt (50.3) and Maltesers (50.1), in sixth and seventh place respectively.

Rounding out the top 10 is Marks and Spencer in fifth with a score of 51.4, BBC One in eighth (49), Dove in ninth (48.8) and BBC iPlayer in 10th (48.8).

Additionally, the ranking also reveals which brands have seen the biggest increase in impression among women during the past year. This year, the brand which experienced the largest increase is Tui which climbed 10.1 points to a score of 19. Netflix is second most improved with a 6.9 point increase, followed by Sports Direct (up 6.8) and WhatsApp (up 6).

YouGov’s annual BrandIndex Women’s Choice Best Brand Rankings is compiled by asking consumers whether they have an overall positive or negative impression of a brand. Scores are then calculated by subtracting the percentage of negative responses from the percentage of positive responses for each brand.

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