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Why I'm not going on strike on 'A Day Without a Woman'

Protestors during the Women's march in Washington. They hold placards saying 'We the women March for humanity'.
Reza | Getty Images
Protestors during the Women's march in Washington. They hold placards saying 'We the women March for humanity'.

As a passionate advocate for women's rights, I applaud nearly everything that International Women's Day represents. But I don't support the call for "A Day Without A Woman" strike on March 8. I'll be showing up at work that day, and I expect my female colleagues to do the same.

Instead of strikes, I'm all for getting noticed and gaining traction by doing. By getting stuff done. Hard stuff. By being positive. And authentic. And knowing how to ask for help. No one can do it alone. Creating a vacuum with a strike may create some pain, but at what cost? We—women AND men—need to be there for each other, now more than ever.

That attitude has served me well during my 35 years in the ad business, which historically and currently is very much a male-dominated industry. And that's why I and so many other women continue to fight the good fight, both at work and at home. We still have something to prove.

"Creating a vacuum with a strike may create some pain, but at what cost? We—women AND men—need to be there for each other, now more than ever."

As gender-equality discussions continue to fill news feeds, it's admittedly discouraging that business women have still yet to find parity in the workplace. Despite studies that continually show that firms with more women in the C-suite are more profitable, just five percent of companies have women leading Fortune 500 companies have women leading them. That defies reason.

Project Worldwide, the independent agency network that owns my company, has female CEOs at two of its 12 agencies and has two others serving in president roles. Good on us. We're ahead of the curve. But, there's so much room for improvement at corporations across the globe.

This year, International Women's Day has a rallying cry of #BeBoldForChange. The global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women is calling on all people to show what they will do to create a more inclusive, gender-equal world. Not what they won't.

I recognize that as a CEO, I have a tremendous responsibility to be a great role model. That's why I'll unapologetically cross any "Day Without A Woman" picket line on March 8. We can all make a difference, be that much stronger, and that much better – women and men both – but we need to do so together.

Commentary by Sharon Napier, CEO of Partners + Napier, an integrated advertising agency, based in Rochester, NY. Ad Age has recognized Sharon as one of the most influential women in the industry. She recently was named a "Trailblazer Working Mother of the Year" by She Runs It. Sharon also serves on Project Worldwide's Global Strategic Leadership Team. Follow her on Twitter @sharondnapier.

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Watch: Closing gender gap will spur global growth