Since 1911, on March 8th people from around the world have been celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) in a variety of different ways. The original IWD was a march of protest, which took place in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland to promote women’s suffrage.
At Spotify, we celebrate women’s achievements throughout the year with our EQUAL hub, and every March gives us an additional opportunity to create a global campaign that highlights creators, engages our employees and impacts the community at large. This year’s focus is “Women at full volume: music powers the movement.”
Why Do We Need To Provide The Opportunity For Women To Be At Full Volume?
You may be wondering why, after more than 100 years from the first march, we still need to raise the volume, so let us outline a few reasons:
- We’re 300 years off achieving gender equality, so the time to act is now.
Gender equality plays a pivotal role in driving progress on all human rights and women and girls play a central role in leading the way forward.
- The voices of women are essential in the fight for human rights, but there are many barriers.
All over the world women are confronted with harmful gender stereotypes, discrimination and threats of violence every day. When a woman raises their voice, as an activist, a politician, an artist or a podcaster, they are at greater risk – especially those with multiple intersecting and marginalized identities.
- Women and youth led movements are powerful drivers of change.
They are pushing path-breaking progress on big issues like climate justice and gender equality. In the face of crises, young people in particular, are using their imagination and ideas to influence change and build a better world.
To drive change and have the best chance at meaningful impact, we know we need to find ways to extend our impact beyond the workplace, and as a platform we’re fortunate enough to have an obvious route to do that. That’s why, as a rule of thumb, we design initiatives with all of our big stakeholders (our listeners, creators, and band members) in mind. IWD is no exception to this.
For Our Creators And Our Listeners
Music has always been at the forefront of social change. It has the power to give voice to women’s stories, which are often unheard, muted or excluded. From Dame Ethel Smyth’s “The March of the Women” (1910), which became the anthem of the women’s suffrage movement to Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam” (1964), which became an iconic protest song, or Taylor Swift’s “The Man” (2019) which calls out harmful gender stereotypes – every wave of social change for women has music that aligns with the struggles of the time.
This IWD, we’re celebrating the songs that spark women’s movements, highlight injustice, unite people behind a cause, and inspire action for gender equality. We’ve invited artists including Alicia Keys, Janelle Monáe, Pitty, The Blessed Madonna to create playlist clips sharing inspiring stories from around the world, through music, which is part of our EQUAL hub.
We’re also inviting activists and movement leaders including Tarana Burke (Founder of Me Too), Shar Jossell (award-winning journalist) and Favianna Rodriguez (Artist, Organizer and Social Justice Advocate) to join us in celebrating the music powering movements for gender equality.
Micro Communities Within Spotify
To celebrate both IWD and Women’s History month (US) with our employees, throughout the month of March, we are hosting several guest speakers and a panel celebrating women in leadership.
These kinds of initiatives would not be possible without the driving force of our Women@Spotify Belonging Group (what other companies call an Employee Resource Group, or an ERG). This group partners with our HR team and plays a significant role in supporting, celebrating, amplifying, advocating, educating and uplifting women at Spotify so that they can thrive. For example, there’s a monthly newsletter that showcases upcoming events that address critical topics (e.g. fertility benefits, business travel as a Mom, etc.), shares positive and uplifting praise for each other, and provides meaningful advocacy in challenging times.
In many businesses, these groups and activities are focussed on regional communities. However, as identities are multi-faceted, Women@Spotify has established several micro-communities, including Women in Tech, Women in Leadership, Women Immigrants, Mothers, Womens Investors and Women’s Advocacy. Having these micro communities allows for deeper shared experience and aspiration connections and it’s here that we’re finding the highest levels of engagement.
The Next Generation
There’s one hugely significant stakeholder that we haven’t mentioned yet – one that could even be considered the most important of all: our next generation of women. And work with this most precious stakeholder group can not be for March only. It must have longevity in its impact, and therefore requires a deeper commitment and more permeable action. An example of this kind of work is our NextGen Audio Program, which is designed to infuse, activate, and grow podcast culture on college campuses. Also, drawing on our acknowledgement of multifaceted identities and the power of engagement within micro communities, we’ve recently extended NextGen, to include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the U.S. The latest in this work is a partnership with Spelman College (the oldest historically Black college for women in America) aimed at inspiring a new class of Black women creators and storytellers by equipping them with tools and resources to develop their podcast skills and infuse the audio industry with their incredible talent. By empowering and enabling young Black women to usher in new stories we haven’t heard, we hope to impact culture, the industry, and narratives about this generation of young leaders.
As we deliver campaigns and projects that are timely for the month of March and its annual spotlighting activities, we are also mindful about ensuring momentum for the future. We know that in order to move closer to gender equality, to lift the voices of women beyond the existing barriers, and to enable powerful women and youth movements, we need to do more than an annual campaign. We know that the time to act is now.
We hope that our continuing actions will have lasting impact and we encourage other companies to join us in helping women to be at full volume, now, and during the rest of the year.