International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8 is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
To honor the achievements and impact women make on JoyRx, we interviewed four staff members at our Portland Headquarters to see what strides we’ve made — and how we can continue to embrace equity within our organization.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
“International Women’s Day is so important to take a moment, acknowledge our fellow females, and rejoice in the power we have and progress we continue to make,” said Elyse Lopez (she/they), Director of Digital Content Strategy.
“I’ve read recently that when men are asked who their heroes are, they almost never list women,” said Will Coker (he/him), Graphic Designer. “International Women’s Day for me is a reminder to face the internalized sexism in myself and others, re-evaluate my views, and renew focus on making sure my actions help create a just environment.”
“For me,” said Robin Cedar (she/they), Copywriter, “it’s a day that marks a step forward for everyone, not just women. As someone who doesn’t identify as a woman (I’m non-binary) but who presents and is comfortable presenting as feminine, I see the effects inequality has on all of us.”
Finally, Kelsey Richards (she/her), HR Director, said: “International Women’s Day and Month are times to reflect on the progress made, but also shine a light on all the opportunities that lay ahead.”
Who is an inspiring woman (or women) in your life?
“There are so many people I could name,” said Robin. “I’ll try to be succinct here and keep it to the tried-and-true answer: my mom. I’ve never met a woman as tenacious as her, someone who’s both nurturing and kind — but also takes zero nonsense and will stand up for what’s right. I strive to be as confident as she is every day.”
Elyse said similarly: “Someone I look up to is my mom. She taught me the power of voicing your truth, loving without regret, and finding strength in yourself. She also raised me with other fierce women as examples, both real and fictional, that showed me the importance of female power in my life.”
“There are so many to choose from,” said Will. “But the name Britta Lundstrom jumps to mind. She was an art director at the time I was working with her, and the first designer I learned from in a professional setting. She set a great example for me in the importance of having a seat at the table and pushing for realistic change,” he said. “I consider myself very lucky to have worked with her.”
Kelsey said: “I am fortunate to have had many inspiring women in my life but instead of just highlight one of them individually, I will highlight who they are collectively. They love fiercely, work passionately, lift others up and out, carve and blaze paths, push pre-established norms and boundaries, fight for the under-represented, and nurture the next generation.”
What efforts has JoyRx made to be more inclusive and equitable? What progress has been made and what are continued efforts being made?
We asked this question specifically of our HR Director to gain insights from her as an individual, as well as JoyRx on a larger level. This is what Kelsey had to say:
“JoyRx continues to make efforts to be more inclusive and equitable,” she said. “We recognize that progress is a long-term commitment, not a short-term project.”
Some of the continued efforts JoyRx makes include regularly evaluating pay structure to ensure equity, proving equitable benefits, making job descriptions more accessible, implementing workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) education programs, aiming for diverse cross level representation, and empowering employees.
This year’s theme is “Embrace Equity.” In your view, what does equity mean or look like for JoyRx?
“For me, ‘embracing equity’ means that when pushing for women’s rights and opportunities,” said Will, “we must also lift up women from underserved communities, which is especially needed in the US where minority and LGBTQIA women are facing so much hardship.”
“International Women’s Day would not be complete without equity,” said Elyse. She sees the steps JoyRx takes to improve equity for our families and employees. “JoyRx embodies these values by putting children first,” she said. “Regardless of background, Joy can be accessible to anyone who needs it. I’m happy to be part of helping to provide it.”
“JoyRx fosters equity in the workplace by cultivating a safe environment that allows for open discussion,” said Kelsey, “and understanding that each employee and family served has varying access to resources and privileges.”
Additionally, Kelsey said: “Equity for JoyRx includes recognizing and addressing the structural barriers and biases that prevent certain groups from accessing the same opportunities and resources as others.”
Embracing Equity — and Embracing Joy
For JoyRx, we believe Joy is an unlimited resource and an undeniable right. We champion purple, but know Joy heals kids and teens of all colors, no matter what language they speak, where they hail from, what gender they are, or where they live.
We ensure all families we serve have equitable access to no-cost, Joy-based programming regardless of diagnosis and ability.
We also strive to create a culture, workplace, and leadership team that reflect the diversity of the population we serve, championing our team of unique individuals to feel empowered to bring their full, authentic selves to work.
There is much work to be done in progressing equity and equality throughout the world, but at JoyRx, we know one thing without question: Joy is inclusive and knows no boundaries. Joy is for everyone and we will continue striving forward to create equitable opportunities for all the children, teens, and families we serve.
To learn more about International Women’s Day and the global movement to champion equity, visit IWD’s website.
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