As a proudly woman-owned and woman-led firm, EFA has a close relationship with Women’s History Month, and we believe strongly in empowering women in the financial sphere and beyond. We looked up some history on the month to find the roots of this annual celebration.
While women’s contributions to history have been a feature of civilization since the dawn of time, the celebration month’s history only goes back to 1978. It was originally a very localized celebration, organized as “Women’s History Week” by the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women in Santa Rosa, California. To match up with the already-recognized International Women’s Day on March 8, the commission chose that week. By the next year, other communities had organized their own weeklong celebrations.
By 1980, Women’s History Week had gained a lot of attention throughout the United States, with many cities promoting the week in March with celebrations, conferences, and other events. Pushing for official national recognition, a group of women’s groups and historians successfully lobbied for the official National Women’s History Week. That year, the week of March 8 was recognized by a presidential proclamation given by Jimmy Carter. This was declared each year by following presidents until 1987 when Congress passed Public Law 100—9. This designated all of March as Women’s History Month. Further resolutions in the years that followed authorized the president to declare March of each year as Women’s History Month, and since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamation doing so.
Now, each year has a theme, which is selected and published by the National Women’s History Alliance. Many events had been planned for 2020 in celebration of the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United States, but the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed many of them, so the theme was carried forward to 2021. The theme announced for 2022 is “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” which is a tribute to the ongoing work of caregivers and frontline workers throughout the pandemic as well as a recognition of the ways women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.
So, how can you celebrate Women’s History Month? An easy way is to consciously support women, perhaps in areas you don’t normally. This includes checking out women-owned businesses and restaurants, supporting women-led and -made films and music, and reading books written by female authors. Uplift the women in your life and in your own history; family history of women is always fascinating to learn and continue to pass on.
How can you celebrate Women’s History Month as a financial professional? Seek out and know the history of women’s financial rights to understand how this continues to impact women investors. Studies show that women investors have different concerns to their male counterparts. Women control more assets than ever before, and this growing financial power should be paid attention to by understanding how to best make yourself available to them. Take time to learn how to best communicate with women by listening to their concerns and prioritizing those concerns for their financial futures. By empowering your women clients identifying their life goals and values, you’ll be able to best work with them to develop actionable financial plans without speaking down to them.
Also, be a champion for diversity in your own workspace. A culture of inclusion in your own office will support the women advisors and office staff and benefit everyone’s experience, advisors, staff, and clients. Obviously, these sorts of actions are not simply something to observe during a single month, but as a continued work of progress to prepare for little girls to step forward as future investors and advisors themselves.