If you were on social media at all yesterday, you probably noticed brands celebrating International Women’s Day. To be honest, some of these displays made me cringe. Remember when McDonald’s celebrated by flipping the golden arches so they formed a “W”? #groundbreaking.
This is a tricky topic, because we can all agree that supporting women is a fantastic goal. But, it rubs me the wrong way to read headlines lauding how investment in women-owned brands is at an all-time high...and then noting that this “high” is 2.8% of VC dollars. To put that figure in context, WeWork raised more money this year than all female-founded companies put together.
The distance we have yet to travel deserves more than a one-day social media holiday.
At Keaton, we didn’t send out anything special for International Women’s Day because I believe that EVERYDAY should be dedicated to supporting women--our customers, vendors, families, and friends. When structuring the business, I committed to having the vast majority of money I spend funneled directly into women’s pockets. Here are a few of the actions we’ve taken so far:
Keaton produces our pants at a small women-owned workshop in Queens, NY. We spend a little more to make each pair than big retailers do, but it's worth it because I can ensure that each pair of pants is made ethically.
We contract with female vendors, including web and graphic designers, photographers, and videographers whenever possible. Most of these fields are still heavily male-dominated.
This year, I want to do an even better job of walking this walk. One of my goals is to be more vocal about sharing the behind-the-scenes process of how Keaton operates. Hopefully this will encourage other small businesses to think about opportunities to support women throughout their supply chains.
For further reading, here are a few pieces that are tackling the nuances of #IWD and how we talk about women's empowerment generally:
The Burns Group's Catalyst Case study--we love this data-backed approach to confronting gender bias
Let 2020 be the year we get rid of Girlboss culture for good--Vicky Spratt, Refinery29
The Trouble with International Women's Day--Jen Doll, The Atlantic