Gap, Lyft, Barbie and Bud: Here's what brands are doing for International Women's Day

An ad for Budweiser, part of its International Women's Day campaign 2019

International Women's Day is a chance for firms to highlight the gender equality work they're doing and this year many are pushing staff initiatives and charitable work as well as launching advertising campaigns.

CNBC takes a look at what some businesses are doing.


Budweiser has owned up to the sexism of its past ad campaigns by publishing three ads from the 1950s and 1960s alongside updated versions. The ads will run in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and LA Times on Friday. "It's a fact: Budweiser has delighted more husbands than any other brew ever known," reads one of the vintage ads, side-by-side with a new one, that reads: "It's a fact: Budweiser can be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere." Bud is partnering with the #SeeHer initiative, started by the Association of National Advertisers to improve the portrayal of women in advertising.

An ad for Budweiser, part of its International Women's Day campaign 2019


The drinks giant released a film featuring its chief marketing officer Syl Saller talking about the company's push for an equal portrayal of men and women in its advertising. "Culture has been shaped by the stories we tell and if you think about it, advertising is telling stories that are backed by billions of dollars to have them heard," she states. The company's Guinness brand also sponsors the Women's Six Nations rugby tournament and released a new ad this week featuring sisters that play for opposing teams.


The snacks and beverage giant has given $18.2 million to non-profit Care, which will go towards providing five million female farmers and their families with access to education and economic support to help them increase their crop yields, according to a release emailed to CNBC. This is part of "She Feeds the World," an initiative aimed at meeting the needs of a growing production.

PepsiCo has provided a grant to nonprofit Care to help fund education and resources for women farmers
Josh Estey | CARE


As part of its Balance for Better initiative (the theme of International Women's Day this year), PayPal made a video featuring five businesswomen discussing diversity (with subtle references to the payment company) and how to make workplaces more balanced. Lisa Edwards, a senior vice-president at Benefit Cosmetics reveals that she felt like she had to work "double as hard" as some of her male counterparts to get up the ladder, while Blythe Harris, co-founder of social selling platform Stella and Dot advised women: "Don't be afraid to ask for what you want and be super direct."

Create & Cultivate

Create & Cultivate is an events organizer, community website and blog aimed at inspiring young women in their careers (it also works with brands — it ran a tour for Amazon in its promotion of the documentary "Lorena"). For those lucky enough to be heading to South by South West, it's running an event in Austin, Texas on March 10 (not part of the official SXSW program) featuring investor Sarah Kunst, pro-surfer Bruna Schmitz and Diageo's senior vice president of Whiskey, Sophie Kelly. Brands are getting on board, with sponsors including Mastercard, Volvo and Chandon.

A Create & Cultivate conference held on Microsoft's campus in Seattle in September 2017
Create & Cultivate


In a continuation of its "Shero" campaign started in 2015, Mattel has made Barbie versions of women such as British activist and model Adwoa Aboah, Chinese photographer Chen Man and Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar. "The Barbie brand believes girls should never know a world, job, or dream women haven't conquered," said Barbie's general manager and senior vice president Lisa McKnight in an online statement.

Barbie has made doll versions of some high-profile women for International Women's Day 2019


For the second year, the beauty subscription company will run a "future starts now" fund, giving a minimum of five people $5,000 to help them achieve career, community or other goals. (Birchbox launched a pilot in Walgreens in October, further tapping into the $48.3 billion makeup industry.)

Walgreens will partner with Birchbox to bring the digital makeup company into physical stores. 
Source: Walgreens

Benefit Cosmetics

Benefit will take the unusual step of closing all 42 of its websites on Friday and instead will provide "resources women can use to hone their skills … and fight for balance in the workplace," according to a statement emailed to CNBC. It's also commissioned illustrator Allie Banks to create images of a diverse range of women.

Allie Banks has created illustrations for Benefit Cosmetics on International Women's Day 2019
Allie Banks | Benefit Cosmetics

American Express

Amex isn't doing any external marketing around International Women's Day but has worked with LinkedIn to add "inclusive leader" to the list of skills on the networking site. It will also hold events in 25 of its offices and has announced that it will run its second leadership academy for women in music, an industry that has a traditionally male skew. The three-day event will be held in New York in June.

American Express will run a women in music leadership event in June 2019
American Express


The mobile network is working with Bright Sky, an app that helps to identify domestic abuse and violence and offers support to sufferers. Those who use it can record incidents securely and find their nearest support center. The app has already been downloaded more than 10,000 times in the U.K. since April 2018 and Vodafone is now helping it to launch in other European countries.

Vodafone is working with nonprofit Hestia on an app helping to tackle domestic abuse


Vans launched 'Vanguards' on Wednesday, an initiative encouraging women to learn to skateboard, starting with a "girls skate jam" on Friday in Chicago and a campaign featuring several of its female team riders.

A guest skates at the 'House of Vans' in New York on July 30, 2018
John Lamparski | Getty Images

Dove chocolate

Mars-owned Dove is building a marketplace for women in Ivory Coast, where they can sell fabric, soap and food, part of a $1 million investment Dove made into non-profit Care. The country is one of the places that Dove sources cocoa, so it's in Mars' interest to help the people who work there.

Dove chocolate will launch a women's marketplace in Ivory Coast as part of International Women's Day 2019
Dove | Mars Wrigley Confectionery


Lyft is giving riders $10 off a journey that goes to or from places that honor women's contributions to U.S. history, such as the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington DC or the Harriet Tubman Memorial in New York. Locations have been chosen by Lyft board member and former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, who is also interviewed in a short video discussing her career and the women's movement.

M. Gemi

The Boston-headquartered Italian shoe website is running a promotion where shoppers can get 10 percent off purchases on Friday and the company will also donate 10 percent to Brave Enterprises, a company that teaches bravery skills to women and girls. Company founder Maria Gangemi has also interviewed female employees as part of a week-long campaign.

Shoe company M.Gemi founder Maria Gangemi (left) has interviewed female staff for International Women's Day


Gap is selling 'forever favorite' t-shirts, featuring words of inspiration, such as "I am enough." The company chose the words of four women for the shirts, including women's rights activist Noorjahan Akbar and Paola Mathe, a Haitian immigrant and founder of headwrap company Fanm Djanm. Other brands in the Gap group including Old Navy and Banana Republic are also designing t-shirts in support of women.

Gap's "forever favorite" slogan t-shirts for International Women's Day 2019