How does an industry with a blatant gender imbalance mark International Women's Day?
On Wednesday, tech companies across the nation prepared for a day without some of their female employees, with many of them taking the day off to participate in A Day Without A Woman, an IWD-related protest urging women to play hooky and abstain from shopping to highlight their importance to the global economy.
The strike comes at an interesting time for the tech community. Sexual harassment allegations made about Uber last month have sparked a broader conversation about sexism and discrimination in the technology industry.
Fortune reached out to several Silicon Valley companies about what they told staff members ahead of the nationwide strike.
As part of a broader company announcement last week, Uber told employees that they're welcome to participate in the protest as long as they let their managers know ahead of time. Since the ride-hailing company has an unlimited vacation policy, employees who did not go to work today will be paid for their time off.
A Lyft spokesperson said all employees were informed they are welcome to participate in A Day Without a Woman. Below is an excerpt of an email the ride-sharing company's General Counsel Kristin Sverchek's sent to the staff about March 8:
It's about asking questions (and sometimes asking them again and again). See something unfair or outdated? Question it. And then question it again and again.
It's about acceptance. Lean in or lean out? It's a personal choice - support your peers either way!
It's about creating an inclusive space. Women are often (although not always) less likely to interject in a large meeting - focus on giving everyone a turn to participate, and consider working to amplify the contributions of other women in meetings.
It's about recognizing your own bias. Strike words like "unlikeable" and "uncharismatic" from your vocabulary - chances are you would only apply them to a woman.
But above all, it is about more than women - for any of this to be successful it is imperative that every single person #BeBoldForChange. Everyone should be an ally; the onus simply cannot be on women alone. It’s why Employee Resource Groups like UpLyft Women are so important--they teach us how to be stronger, together.
A Facebook spokesperson told Fortune that the tech giant didn’t send out a formal memo, but supports employees’ participation in the event. The company said it normally requires staff to take a day of PTO leave when they take personal time, but given the context, it would not penalize those who participated in the protest.
To commemorate International Women’s Day, Facebook is holding a 24-hour live event to celebrate women in business. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also live-streamed a conversation with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about gender equality.
A Google spokesperson said the tech company supported its employees’ participation in the "grassroots efforts" happening to mark the day, noting that the company supports other nationwide demonstrations (such as gay pride parades). The search giant is celebrating International Women’s Day by launching new campaigns aimed at closing the gender gap in technology.