DWF engaged over 1,000 employees across five countries for International Women's Day

 July 11, 2019

IWD Best Practice Winners

International Women's Day is all about taking on new challenges for bigger and better celebrations.

As DWF's global expansion continues, a priority for the business is to ensure that all their colleagues feel a sense of belonging and recognise that they have access to equal opportunity and respect wherever they are located, so the company thought that IWD was the perfect opportunity to get colleagues involved on a global scale.

This year, DWF held 26 events across 17 cities and offices in 5 countries with over 1,000 people participating - by far its largest IWD event to date.

DWF IWD Balance for Better celebrations

A thoroughly engaged workforce

DWF saw some remarkable activity from their IWD efforts.

DWF Law - women

Creating an environment for women to have a voice

DWF began its journey as a northern England legal business, then in 2015 DWF began global expansion with the opening of its first international office. Over the past four years, DWF has grown from a regional UK practice to operating in 4 continents with over 3,100 people in the business.

For DWF, it is paramount to create an environment where all women at DWF feel they have a voice. DWF also wants to enable all female talent to fulfil their potential is paramount. DWF's International Women's Day campaign provided many opportunities for colleagues to influence and drive its gender balance and female progression initiatives.

DWF IWD Balance for Better Shiraz Sethi

Involving all offices in IWD celebrations

For IWD 2019, DWF wanted to go beyond a communications campaign, with each office materially marking the day, for example hosting an event, engaging or volunteering with a female focused external organisation and so on, to raise the profile of its commitment to gender equality internally and externally by promoting commitment and activity on Yammer, Twitter and LinkedIn. 

DWF IWD Balance for Better Vicki Thomas

Uniting employees in photo campaigns

DWF united its global employees by encouraging them to take part in a photo campaign when they stood in the iconic #BalanceforBetter pose. 100 photos were shared on DWF's internal social media platform that formed a collage published on March 8th on its global LinkedIn and Twitter accounts along with the relevant hashtags.

Another photo campaign involved DWF asking colleagues what 'Balance For Better' and 'International Women's Day' means to them. Their responses were again shared on internal and external social media platforms to raise awareness across the company.

DWF IWD Balance for Better Stephen Miles

DWF IWD Balance for Better Fiona Matthews

DWF IWD Balance for Better Simon Murray

DWF IWD Balance for Better Caroline Colliston

DWF IWD Balance for Better Leila Parsa

DWF IWD Balance for Better selfie pose

DWF IWD Balance for Better

DWF IWD Balance for Better team women

DWF IWD Balance for Better colleagues

DWF UK hosts panel discussions and school sessions

As well as the photo campaign, DWF encouraged individual offices around the world to host their own IWD events.

DWF IWD Balance for Better schoolgirls group photo

DWF's UK office in Manchester, London and Liverpool organized panel discussions with a diverse range of women and men entitled 'Balance of Better', 'Think equal, build smart, innovate for change' and 'The Next 100 Years'.

DWF also published numerous blogs internally as well as photos and quotes externally, including a high profile piece in a global legal website, The Lawyer, by Catherine Haslam, a Partner based in its Manchester office.

DWF IWD Balance for Better schoolgirls

Inspiring girls

DWF also held five 'Inspiring Girls' session with female students from its partner schools. The sessions engaged 150 girls and discussed why it is important to have International Women's Day and the barriers which women face in business, the media, government, sport, television, film and so on.

The students had the opportunity to meet junior women starting out in their careers as well as senior women at the very top of their careers who talked about how they got to where they are, any barriers they faced, how they overcame them and what advice they would give to their 15 year old selves.

DWF IWD Balance for Better schoolgirl event

10 of its UK offices collected for The Red Box Project collecting over 1,000 sanitary products for local school girls who don't have the means to buy their own.

The Red Box Project is an attempt to reduce the amount of young women who are missing out on their education or not attending school because they cannot afford the products they need during their period.

DWF IWD Balance for Better table learning

DWF Canada holds internal TED Talk and trivia event

In Toronto, DWF held an internal TED Talk titled 'Can we “have it all”?' by Ann-Marie Slaughter and a trivia event. The office also asked colleagues to respond to questions such as 'How will you challenge bias and stereotypes?'

DWF Dubai organizes stage play and debate 

Meanwhile Dubai offices organised and hosted a stage play for internal colleagues and clients, covering topics around women's empowerment, women in business and gender pay gap. Following the play there was a debate chaired by a female Partner in Dubai with members of the audience.

DWF IWD Balance for Better balloons

DWF Australia invites employees to a morning tea

As part of DWF's commitment to the UN women empowerment principles, its Brisbane, Newcastle and Sydney offices attended and invited clients to the UN IWD breakfast events. Its Melbourne office organised, sponsored and colleagues spoke at the Women in Sport Summit.

Each office also organised a morning tea session on International Women's Day, which provided an opportunity for its people to network and take part in the photo campaign.

DWF IWD Balance for Better

DWF US delivers running games for charity 

Finally, in DWF's US Chicago office, there was a 'Walking Wednesday' activity for non-profit organization "Girls on the Run" that encourages girls to develop self-respect and health lifestyles through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games.

DWF IWD Balance for Better schoolgirls

Incorporating country's culture in IWD celebrations

DWF's IWD activities managed to be both international and localised.

Many global companies with head offices in the UK often suggest to their international offices that they run the same event or initiative as the UK office(s). But DWF wanted its international colleagues to have input into the campaign and discuss gender equality in relation to the issues and cultures in their country. This activity was driven by the CSR & Diversity team, who supported each office to plan and communicate their IWD initiative.

As they were led by people in global office locations, each office interpreted #BalanceforBetter in a way that embraced their country's culture and developed meaningful activities that were personally relevant to their employees and strengthened the impact of the campaign message.

DWF IWD Balance for Better

DWF IWD Balance for Better

Most importantly, DWF's campaign not only made an impact on its employees, but on the company as a whole.

DWF's campaign broughts up many issues surrounding gender equality, particularly the lack of women in senior roles and how there are potentially blockages for women in the business and wider society to progressing to the next career level. As a result of this engagement, DWF has started to develop a global female progression programme to empower its female staff to the next stage of their career. DWF recognises that women are critical to DWF's future growth and DWF will struggle to achieve business success if women are not equally represented at all career levels in the business.

Following DWF's campaign, it wrote to over 200 women in all locations in the business at critical points in their career to provide them access to Everywoman, an online platform of resources to help prepare for career progression and a network within their office to discuss and support one another on a variety of challenges that can occur in a professional environment, such as resilience, managing upwards, workplace communication and leadership.

Great proof from DWF that IWD can have a lasting and transformative effect on many who participate.

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