Celebrated annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day sheds light on some of the most pressing issues in the workplace: gender equality and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
From the very beginning, International Women’s Day has focused on promoting social justice, safety, and gender equality. This year, the message is about breaking bias both inside and outside of the workplace.
In accordance with the official theme for this year’s campaign, we’ve decided to compile a list of 10 leading influential HR professionals who have made it their mission to actively #BreaktheBias in the professional space. In this article, you will learn about them, their dedication, and their contributions towards creating a more inclusive and equitable future for everyone.
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Why is International Women’s Day Celebrated?
International Women’s Day is a holiday that celebrates women, their achievements, and their progress. In order to appreciate the achievements that have been made, it is important to take a look a the origins of the day itself.
International Women’s Day was officially recognized by the United Nations on March 8th, 1975. However, the very first “National Women’s Day” strike in the United States took place in 1909.
The day was born out of struggle. With the rise of industrialization in the 1900s, women faced unfair employment practices, abominable wages, and unsafe working conditions. After the initial 1909 protests and the tragic “Triangle Fire” that claimed the lives of 146 women factory workers, the movement grew into a global call to action.
Today, International Women’s Day maintains its initial objective to raise awareness for themes like violence against women and point out the injustices that women face, particularly in the professional sphere. However, the day has grown to incorporate the multilayered biases and discriminations faced by women of color, transgender, nonbinary, immigrant, and marginalized populations. The day champions diversity, equity, and inclusion, and embraces the idea of intersectionality and gender equality in a broader spectrum.
The Most Influential HR Leaders of 2022
The following list consists of individuals who are challenging stereotypes and biases, while actively working to promote equality in the workplace and build community in their daily actions.
Sheree Knowles, SPHR, CPM is a talented executive with over 25 years of HR leadership and project management experience. She is the founder of two human capital and 8(a) and DBE-certified talent management firms, Human Capital Consulting Consortium (H3C) and HR Knowledge Source (HRKS). Recently, HRKS was recognized as a 2021 Top 30 Small Businesses of the Year in Cobb County, GA, featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and broadcasted in Inside The Blueprint.
Meenakshi Iyer thrives at the intersection of People, Process, and Technology. She is a T-shaped servant leader with an international and interdisciplinary career in IT, Agile/Business Process Transformation, international healthcare, HR, and Training, in India and the USA, spanning more than two decades. “Stop, breathe, think, act.” Is her motto. Meenakshi is fluent in four languages and has lived and worked in 10+ cities in India and the US. She is passionate about democratizing access and opportunities for people development across the world.
Jo Weech has a passion for all things People and Talent, providing strategic and tactical plans for businesses to succeed in optimizing an inclusive hiring process and equitable career pathing. She has helped geographically diverse clients to increase their cultural engagement. Jo is a serial volunteer assisting organizations that serve job seekers in college to career, military transition, underserved communities, and retiring federal government employees.
Dr. Linda Wiley Bing
Dr. Linda Wiley Bing is an inspirational speaker, certified life coach, certified diversity executive, certified relationship specialist, critically acclaimed author, and globally recognized businesswoman. She is the founder and CEO of Turning Point Leadership Group LLC, an innovative performance improvement company that specializes in DEI, leadership development, and relationship management. For 25 years, she and her team have created more diverse, equitable, and inclusive cultures in large and small companies, government agencies, and non-profits across the globe.
Kerry Brown is a strategist and thought leader who helps companies achieve organizational excellence. She is an international speaker and expert adviser on the future of work, change management, learning, and workforce adoption, interacting with diverse global occupational cultures and industries, including many Fortune 500 companies. Most recently she led a global team at SAP focused on a transformational change of the customer experience in the cloud.
Rachel Druckenmiller is on a mission to humanize the workplace by igniting resilience, connection, engagement, and compassion in organizations, leaders, and teams. Recognized by Forbes as a Next1000 honoree in 2021, the #1 Health Promotion Professional in the U.S. by the Wellness Council of America in 2015, a 40 Under 40 Game Changer in 2019, and one of The Daily Record’s Leading Women of 2020, Rachel is a national thought leader in the field of employee engagement and wellbeing.
An HR Executive and strategist, Robin Schooling, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has worked in a variety of industries including gaming, health care, manufacturing, and banking. She’s a member of the Advisory Board for BlackbookHR, and has served on advisory boards for Smartbrief on Workforce, Geaux Veterans, and the Louisiana Business Leadership Network, which focuses on providing positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities.
Jackye Clayton is an acclaimed thought leader and inspirational speaker on recruiting and DEI topics. She brings years of experience recruiting across a variety of industries including Technology, HR, Legal, Finance, and Operations, and most recently served as the DEI Strategist at SeekOut. Jackye was previously an editor for RecruitingDaily, and currently co-hosts two popular podcasts, Inclusive AF dealing with DEIB topics and But FIrst, Coffee which focuses on Human Resources.
Jackye has been named one of the 9 Powerful Women in Business You Should Know by SDHR Consulting, one of the 15 Women in HR Tech to Follow by VidCruiter, one of the Top Recruitment Thought Leaders that you must follow by interviewMocha Magazine, and is on the 2021 Top 100 list of Human Resources Influencers by Human Resource Executive Magazine.
For over 20 years, Laurie Ruettimann has been telling work-life stories as a thought leader, author, podcaster, keynote speaker, and consultant. As a former human resources leader for companies like Monsanto and Pfizer, she believes that it is way past time to fix a world of work that’s broken. Through her storytelling, she casts a spotlight on innovators who are advocating for driving better employment experiences that benefit everyone — individuals, managers, employers, and organizations.