International Women’s Day

March, 2023

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD) and this year’s theme is centered around Embracing Equity! Elemental wants to contribute to this important (and necessary) topic by sharing insights from our own experience. That’s why we talked Leonie van Mierlo about the key insights she gathered in writing her book Draw Wins (Gelijkspel Wint) and through her work guiding organizations to become more diverse and inclusive.

What is equity?

But let’s first look at what equity actually means and how it differs from equality. Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances. Gender equity recognizes specifically that women and gender-diverse people are not in the same ‘starting position’ as men, and reflects therefore the ‘extra investment you do’ as an organization to achieve gender equality. 

Key Insights

Leonie shared three key takeaways with us that she’s learned from working with a range of organizations on the topic of gender equality.

First of all, it’s important to keep communicating the “why” of gender equality. 

More women in the organization add new perspectives and to better decision-making, leading to a balanced masculine-feminine and therefore inclusive culture which makes an organization attractive for (young) talent. The more employees are convinced about these benefits, the more they will be motivated to contribute to this ambition. Attaching target figures to your DEI approach has several benefits; DEI becomes top of mind, it stimulates to investigate internal barriers and find ‘systemic’ solutions that contribute to sustainable change.

Secondly, in recruitment many people still comment that they are looking for ‘the best candidate’ instead of ‘a woman’. And they are right. But who is the best candidate? Often unconscious bias arises resulting in preferring and hiring someone who looks like you. In organizations where men are dominant women are set back. Inclusive recruitment needs a broader view, focussing on competencies that currently miss in the team and add value. Recruitment processes need to be designed in a way that unconscious bias is limited.

And lastly, D&I is a marathon and not a sprint. Achieving gender equality does not happen overnight, it needs work and continuous attention. Obtaining knowledge, creating awareness, and changing behavior (in all levels of the organizations) are three necessary steps that need to be taken in order to create a systemic approach. This approach is needed to implement a sustainable and organizational wide DEI approach, and thus achieve gender equality.

Last advice and next steps

The last advice Leonie would give any organization is to stimulate constant conversation with each other for Diversity and Inclusion is a complex subject and every organization and industry also has its own challenges. By organizing dialogue sessions and workshops, the organization’s unique challenges emerge and colleagues become aware about their own role in adding to a diverse and inclusive organization. 


Want to learn how to implement a practical DEI approach within your own organization in 10 steps? Reach out to


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