We must embrace equity

Written by: Sucheta Govil

We celebrate International Women's Day. For Sucheta Govil, Chief Commercial Officer of Covestro, this year's campaign theme "Embrace Equity" is a reminder of how much work still lies ahead.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated on March 8th for more than a hundred years. I’m personally confident and encouraged by the progress towards equity we witness today: As UN Women reports, over the last two years eight countries have elected or sworn in their first woman Head of State or Government, including Estonia, Barbados, and Tunisia. Germany got its first gender equal cabinet in 2021. Closer to home, when I look at Covestro the share of women in the total workforce is rising constantly towards our goal to reach a quota of 40% by 2029. In the upper management levels, we have already achieved a share of women of 24%.

Yet the urgency and necessity of promoting equity are still alive in 2023. It fills me with deep sadness that when we look around the world, we see women not being treated as full citizens, being excluded from education and the job market. They are mistreated and silenced. Afghanistan and Iran are only two examples.

In light of this, IWD is even more important to question ourselves how we are actively promoting a world of equal rights for every person – regardless of their sex, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or sexual identity. This year´s campaign theme of International Women´s Day #EmbraceEquity to me resonates a holistic determination: as long as we do not positively embrace equity and embed it with all its implications into our lives, there will be no true progress towards equal rights for all.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are part of almost every company’s statute these days. We have covered ground from equity being seen as nice-to-have to a status we should constantly think about, believe in and strive for. That is why March 8 is so important to me: let us celebrate the progress already made towards achieving gender equity. But let us also raise awareness for the still existing lack of women´s equality and rights. Because we still see in many areas, on a large and small scale, cases of gender equity being more written than actually lived.

As a leader of an organization that is aware of its social responsibility, I have also thought about what is most important to me to embrace in the context of equity. I go with Women’s Empowerment. As Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan is quoted with regard to our future: “We cannot all succeed if half of us are held back” and I couldn’t agree more. Women’s Empowerment is about promoting girls and women in the social as well as economic sphere and strengthening their self-confidence. Because I believe in the exponential strength of women – but to fly high and stay at the top women need allies, too. In business it is especially the top C-level management that needs to show strong support for the company’s measures to increase Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Their support has an important signal effect – internally for the company and externally for society at large.

I am proud that @Covestro has joined the joint Women's Empowerment Principles initiative of @UNWomen and the UN Global Compact to promote gender equality. By joining the WEP’s community of more than 4,250 companies worldwide, Covestro is one of the first signatories in the European chemical industry.

To push for DE&I to become sustainably embedded in society and business we can all play a part. Speak up, offer allyship. Get involved personally. Collective activism is what drives change.

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