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women in business for international women's day, from Lenovo and Airbnb

Ally Watson, CEO and Founder of Code Like a Girl and Lenovo Ambassador (left) and Susan Wheeldon, Country Manager, Airbnb Australia and New Zealand (right).

What the big businesses are doing for International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is held annually on the 8th of March, as a celebration of women’s achievements. It is a chance for businesses, big and small, to show their customers and community that they support gender equality.

Many big brands are involved in a marketing front, and/or they’re involved behind-the-scenes with some initiatives that showcase the achievements of the women in their business.

We hear from some of the well-known businesses in Australia, such as AirBnb and Facebook, as well as others, on what they’ll be doing this International Women’s Day. We hope this will provide insights into how all businesses can get involved and support gender equality – which is still struggling in Australia today.

In no particular order we look at how businesses are marking IWD, in their own words.

Avanade Australia

Debra Underwood, Marketing Director and Inclusion and Diversity Chair of Avanade Australia shares what their widely-spread team will be doing and what IWD means for them.

What the big businesses are doing for International Women’s Day 

At Avanade, our International Women’s Day celebration each year is centred around a theme that underpins the breadth of employee engagement programs we run in every country we operate in and our thought leadership initiatives to influence the communities we live in. In 2018 and 2019 for example, we celebrated International Women’s Day with a Global Marquee Event which was broadcast live from one of our offices (e.g. Seattle, Tokyo) and coincided with local events and initiatives driven by our Inclusion and Diversity Champions in each country.

This year, our CEO Pam Maynard will share a video message with all Avanade employees globally that aims to inspire each and every one of us to accelerate parity across multiple dimensions, including gender, and convey that championing gender equality is important to all of us in Avanade. In Australia, our week-long celebration will encompass a variety of in-person and online engagement held in all six of our offices – Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra and Adelaide. Starting from a podcast with our Australia Managing Director Mac Ghani to kick off the series of activities, our employees will continue to be engaged through panel discussions and dialogues, local office events/gatherings, stories shared by women at Avanade Australia from different backgrounds, opinion articles and blogs, as well as postcards by our employees that state their commitment to press for progress and how they will achieve it.

As Avanade’s Inclusion and Diversity Chair in Australia, I am proud of the passion and intent we have, the ownership we take to inspire each other and help our people feel cared for. Inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. We believe it is up to each of us in our actions, decisions and behaviour to create an ecosystem where everyone can thrive.

Lenovo | Code Like a Girl

Ally Watson, CEO and Founder of Code Like a Girl and Lenovo Ambassador, tells us a little bit about her organisation – which is of course female-orientated anyway – and what they specifically to do mark IWD. 

What the big businesses are doing for International Women’s Day

At Code Like a Girl, we empower and enable women and girls to be equal creators in building the future. Our social enterprise helps to provide women with the confidence, tools, knowledge and support to enter and flourish in the world of coding.

Throughout the year Code Like a Girl, in partnership with a collective of tech companies including PC manufacture Lenovo, host courses and events as a way to help females grow their technical tool kit with contemporary coding skills. Our kids camps aimed at young girls, provide a nurturing environment where they can feel comfortable to learn and explore technology. Lenovo plays an important role in providing smarter technology for everyone by supplying our girls with the right tools and tablets to learn.

International Women’s Day is an important milestone for Code Like a Girl as women are at the heart of everything we do. This year we are focusing on our mission to support women by releasing new courses, sharing first-hand stories of inspiring women in tech and participating in International Women’s Day panels to promote a more gender equal society.

This week we have launched new Coding Essentials courses for women in line with March 8th to showcase that we are dedicated to closing the gender gap in STEM every day of the year. On social media, we have amplified our message by producing and releasing videos celebrating women who work in technology with our campaign “Code Your Own Way.” This features the journey of three inspiring women sharing the importance of diversity in tech and challenging stereotypes and perceptions of a career in tech to inspire the next generation of coders.

By partnering with brands such as Lenovo, we are able to access cutting edge technology to further support women in tech at Code Like a Girl. We are passionate about bringing together women inspired by knowledge and technology to showcase that you can achieve and exceed in a male dominated space.


Melinda Petrunoff, who is Facebook Director for Small and Medium Business (Australia and New Zealand) talks us through some of Facebook programmes that encourage women to seek mentorship, networking opportunities and career growth. 

Every day, women use Facebook’s family of apps to share their stories, express themselves, bring people together, speak out, build communities and livelihoods, make economic and social impact, create movements, rally around important causes, and more.

This International Women’s Day, Facebook celebrates all of the women using their voice for progress. We are committed to enabling an equal world by supporting women through initiatives that help address needs around coaching, mentorship, connectivity and community, which are all integral factors in helping women succeed.

We have programs such as #SheMeansBusiness, which enables women with opportunities to connect with each other and learn. Across the region, we have trained more than 320,000 small medium businesses across 197 locations – 50 per cent of whom are women entrepreneurs.

This year, we are launching #TechByHer, an initiative to provide more inclusive programming and support for women in tech across Asia Pacific. This includes training to build better products and scale their startups, tips on using our platforms to monetise their products, and sharing stories of successful developers and businesses from around the world.

Airbnb ANZ

What the big businesses are doing for International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day (IWD), Airbnb is championing its female host community in Australia through #HostWithHer, an initiative that celebrates their stories and offers real-life advice.

Embracing this year’s International Women’s Day theme #EachForEqual, Airbnb’s campaign invites women and allies to discover the joy of hosting, as the company works towards IWD’s goal of creating a gender-equal world with thriving economies and communities.

Airbnb is shining a light on the women who host on the platform and have achieved greater financial, professional and social empowerment as a result. In fact, 61 percent of Airbnb’s homes host community in Australia are female – above the global average of 54% – earning over $690 million in 2019 by listing their home on Airbnb.

From Simone in the Blue Mountains who teaches her guests how to live an eco-conscious lifestyle, to Alaa who moved to Australia from Syria and uses the income she earns from hosting an Airbnb Experience to support herself as she studies at university… tens of thousands of female hosts are using the platform to achieve greater financial independence.

Susan Wheeldon, Country Manager, Airbnb Australia and New Zealand said that she is proud to see women using the platform, and loves seeing the options it gives them. 

“I am proud to see how women across the country are utilising the platform to fulfil their life goals: Each host has a unique story and I love seeing how Airbnb has empowered incredible Australian women – whether that be through listing their home or running an Airbnb Experience.

“Women in Australia and around the world are using their Airbnb income for everything, from sending their children to school, to living an independent lifestyle, and pursuing their passions.”

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Loren Webb

Loren Webb

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