There is a lot going on these days to pay attention to, and not all of it is positive. But on this day in the last couple of years, I’ve tried to be intentional about recognizing the importance of International Women’s Day, both at our company and in the broader community.

As a small gesture in the direction of impelling action toward positive change, I have decided to use personal funds to enable Benevity to match donations on a 2-to-1 basis up to $100,000 to the local chapters of three organizations that are making meaningful efforts to address some of the unique challenges facing women: YWCA, Canada Learning Code and Dress for Success.  These organizations are very different from each other, as are the motives behind their inclusion.

Despite being a “white, male CEO,” I happen to come from a low-income background and was raised for the most part by a single mom who struggled with precisely the nature of vulnerability that the YWCA and similar organizations seek to address through their support.

In the case of Canada Learning Code (recently renamed from Ladies Learning Code), the advancement of digital literacy and the enablement of career choices involving technology are of critical importance to all Canadians, but especially women; these efforts are also particularly vital steps in the required diversification of our economy, the skill sets likely to be in high demand in the future and the pursuit of real gender equality.

And last but not least, the mission of Dress for Success speaks for itself: “to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” Not only is this a profoundly successful organization worldwide, the Board Chair of the Calgary chapter is a Benevity-ite and we are very proud of her!

While I have no illusion that my $100k is going to make any dent of its own on the issues facing women, I am hoping that other companies and their leaders will take notice (and maybe some action too!). At Benevity, we deal with around 300 of the Fortune 1000 as clients who use our software to power their corporate “Goodness” programs. While that number is climbing, every day we face a challenge in helping companies shift their mindset from a top-down, once-a-year arm-twisting exercise in employee fundraising to a broader, grassroots, engagement-oriented approach to infusing passion and purpose into their cultures. 

Our goal is to inspire and inform leaders on how the changing role of a corporation in today’s society will help them recast their giving, volunteering and grantmaking programs in a manner that transcends the confines of philanthropy as it has been traditionally framed. Having senior leadership in companies take notice and embrace this macro-trend will elevate the importance and relevance of this thinking, promoting the development of actionable strategies that help companies and people be their best selves, and inspire the prevalence of leadership that corporations increasingly need to demonstrate—not just to regain public trust, but to do the right thing, be authentic and build the kind of culture that helps people make the right decisions when facing choices that may not be easy.   

This is the ethos and manner of leadership some are providing in a world and at a time when it is so badly needed. We have watched with interest and admiration as these types of leaders have built some of the world’s top employers, while modeling many of the behaviors that we need to exhibit for us to leave the world better than we found it. 

As we gear up to #PressforProgress this International Women’s Day this year, I’m hoping that our small, but mostly symbolic, contribution will help the women of our country and our community access the support they need, become empowered and take up their rightful place in our society and in our workplaces. Every year we make incremental progress, but with your support, we can go further.

Donate to YW Calgary, Dress for Success Calgary and Canada Learning Code at the Benevity Community Impact Portal until March 9, 2018 and get a 200% match that will triple your impact!