Mekanic Without a Woman?

Written by Kate Burgman

As a person who reads things on the Internet, you may already know that March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day that commemorates the women’s rights movement. This day originated in the early 20th century and has been officially recognized by the United Nations on a global scale since the 1970s. The theme of International Women’s Day has shifted from year to year, focusing on issues such as women’s health, ending violence against women, and, most recently, equality for women in the workplace. The 2017 theme is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030,” which centers on the goal of equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender.

I casually mentioned yesterday to everyone in the office – three males and two females, with good gender balance among leadership and support roles – that many women across the globe are honoring this year’s International Women’s Day theme by striking and protesting to show the world what a “Day Without a Woman” would look like. I also mentioned that I didn’t intend to strike. After all, I’ve been working at Mekanic for just a few weeks now, and I’m passionate about my job. Besides, I’m currently part-time and paid hourly, so if I decided to strike, I wouldn’t get paid – an issue preventing many women from walking out on the job today.

Then, yesterday evening, I received a message from our CEO, Erik, indicating that he supports women’s right to protest and have our voices heard, and that he would support my decision if I decided to strike – and Mekanic would still pay me for the day. “What kind of company would we be if we didn’t?” he asked. I was so flattered by this generous offer that I did something crazy – I turned it down. I love being at work with the Mekanic family, and we’re all here to support the causes we believe in together, and of course to support our clients as well!

I did suggest that we find a woman-owned business in our home base of Old Town Alexandria that’s open today where we could all get lunch together, of course, because that’s how we roll. And then, social animal that I am, I hopped on Facebook to tell this story, and I knew I had to blog about it too, so I could have the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with a wider audience.

There are many people out there asking, “What do these ‘Day Without A…’ protests really accomplish, anyway, aside from inconveniencing everybody?” To these people, we say, think about the “why.” Why does it seem so inconvenient? I’d be willing to bet the answer is that women are essential to our everyday functions and activities, and when they’re not around, we all feel it. Just because our companies might support us and pay us equally by no means indicates that all women share this experience universally. Women deserve the right to demand equality, and by walking out and speaking out, they’ve certainly captured our attention. And to women who couldn’t protest today because of socioeconomic, childcare, health-related, or other issues, we support you and are here with you in solidarity.

Here at Mekanic, we believe 100% in equal pay and equal rights. If small businesses like us don’t support our employees and their beliefs, then we are nothing.