Why do we celebrate International Women’s Day?

Today, March 8, is commemorated worldwide as International Women’s Day. It’s a day that aims to make people aware of a matter that still needs work in the majority of the societies around the world in terms of gender inequalities being a central problem. This battle, which has lasted for centuries now, is gradually seeing successes in terms of promoting equality between men and women in all of life’s situations – even though there is still much work to be done. Even so, the question arises as to the origin of this commemorative date.

In March of 1911, more than 120 young working women from the Triangle Shirtwaist Shirt Factory in New York lost their lives as a result of a raging fire that took place while they were at work – a fire that, even to this day, is considered one of the greatest industrial catastrophes of the history of the United States. The victims, the majority of which were immigrants, could not escape due to the fact that the factory bosses had the habit of locking all the plant’s entrances and exits to avoid theft.

The fire’s investigation generated a social shockwave around the entire country that forced the authorities to make laws on occupational safety and health regulations and acted as the seed which gave rise to the first international women’s union: the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. Because of this historic event, the UN decided to set March 8 as a commemorative date and they remind us that this date is for all women to become the authors of history, while likewise reminding us that this special day’s roots are firmly planted in the centuries-old fight that women have had to undertake to be able to participate in society on the same level as men.

Since that historic event, there have been many changes and advances in terms of gender equality; nonetheless, recent pieces of data indicate that there still remains much to do. Perhaps the salary gap between men and women is what we tend to find most visible in terms of this struggle. According to the news agency Europa Press, and according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2016 by the World Economic Forum (which measures economic, political, educational and health aspects around the world) it will take women 170 years to close the salary gap that exists between them and men and, therefore, the aforementioned organisation calculates that women would have to wait until 2186 to achieve total equality (gender equality was calculated at 59% last year – the highest level since 2008).

What do we do at DIA?

From a business standpoint, DIA Group works daily to try to reduce gender inequality, with the aim of promoting equal opportunities for all those who are members of its staff. This is a very important point for the company as more than 65% of its staff members in the five countries where it operates are women. Likewise, the company’s president, Ana María Llopis, is also a woman, as well as three of the ten individuals on the company’s Board of Directors.

Thus, the company has had its own Equality Plan in place in Spain since 2012 and all employees are aware of said plan. As an example, over the last fiscal year, 39% of the promotions to a professional category different from the one where the employee started out were for female staff members. Said Equality Plan is complemented by different events organised by the company to raise awareness amongst its staff members throughout the year – these events are for employees in our headquarters, warehouses and shops.

Fighting to support the woman on all levels, DIA Group is also a part of the Spanish Government’s “Company Network for a Domestic-Violence Free Society”, which aims to take advantage of companies’ potential to act as an agent for generating social awareness.