As we take time during International Women’s Day to honor the achievements of women around the world, we are reminded of the courage it takes to enact real change. #BeBoldForChange is this year’s theme, and the boldness celebrated on this day must be seized upon by businesses if we are to enact enduring positive change.

Within the public sphere, spirited and courageous communications have played a vital role over the years in advancing gender equality — from empowering participation in women’s rights demonstrations, to fueling gender-discrimination policy battles to holding businesses accountable for gender outcomes in the workplace. When the right cause has the right message, the effect can be powerful.

In business, we must also all #BeBoldForChange. Companies that embrace diversity and gender equality are demonstrably stronger and more competitive than ones that do not. Research from McKinsey confirms that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry peers.

The same courage is needed within companies, along with on-the-ground communications skills. Leaders must not be risk averse in the face of gender equality and instead must #BeBoldForChange in three clear ways:

  • Promote a commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion — Companies must encourage conversations around diversity and inclusion. They need to be purposeful in developing communications strategies and tactics that will spread these conversations throughout their organization.
  • Recognize the opportunities that come with diverse hiring — By committing to diverse hiring, companies are likely to see progress in their ability to win top talent, boost employee satisfaction and improve decision making. Hiring is the first step toward achieving greater gender diversity across the workplace, but will also demonstrate to stakeholders an understanding of, and commitment to, the measurable business value of gender diversity.
  • Create an environment where women can thrive — Companies must develop both mentorship opportunities, for women to learn how to succeed in the work environment and approach that success deliberately, and sponsorship opportunities, in which women advance by having more senior-level executives advocate for them.

Industry leaders who have the courage to identify, prepare, promote and empower female colleagues will continue to enjoy a decisive advantage in the marketplace, which is where Burson-Marsteller Advantage Women can help.

Through this specialty offering we are promoting conversations around diversity and inclusion by encouraging organizations to develop powerful communications strategies and tactics to promote their commitment to women’s issues. We are proud of our work in this space, which exemplifies our commitment to gender equality by helping organizations activate the value of gender balance within the workplace and creating opportunities for women to rise as leaders.

Helaine S. Klasky is U.S. Public Affairs and Crisis Chair and leads the Burson-Masteller Advantage Women specialty offering.