I am so fortunate that when I founded Rare Birds, there were lots of high profile, successful male leaders and entrepreneurs willing to give their voice, and their time, in support of my mission. My plan then, and still is today, to improve women’s economic security by creating equal opportunities in entrepreneurship and leadership.
Gender equality is not a women’s conversation. Men absolutely have to be involved in discussions for any lasting change to occur. Ponder this: a report from a study by Chief Executive Women and Bain & Company stated that 64% of men said they feel satisfied with their current level of engagement in gender equality efforts, but almost 70% of women said that they would like men to be more involved. Why do you think there is such a large gap in perception? I’m very interested to hear your thoughts on this and what can be done to change it.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #ChoosetoChallenge and I am going to issue a challenge for all of you: take a really hard look at your systems and processes, from hiring and onboarding through to company culture and leadership, and think about how you personally can make measurable action towards creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace and be an agency of change. We know the benefits: more innovation, greater profitability and market share, improved employee satisfaction.
What can be done?
- Flexible roles for everyone so both men and women feel supported to play an important part in their children’s early development without losing out on opportunities at work;
- Blind recruitment where names are not included in applications (when hires are made purely on merit, the gender balance is restored pretty quickly);
- Accountability: set targets, measure results. Make D&I something leadership teams are responsible for and part of their KPIs;
- Women not being the first volunteer at work: cleaning up, buying the birthday cake or gift, organising the work function. Everyone has an equal role in this.
- Being conscious of the language we use and women taking care not to slip into a bias. I find the description ‘pale, male and stale’ deeply offensive. As offensive as I do a strong female leader being labelled “aggressive”. I know many fine men who fit that description and many others who are great, conscious, long-term supporters of diversity and inclusion and are amazing mentors to the Rare Birds community of mentees. Applaud male allyship and enable the space for them to feel and know how important this role is.
- Picture the world you want your own daughters and granddaughters to live and work in and make the subtle and conscious changes to enable that firstly at home and then supporting at school and further education and work level. Be involved.
- Finally, an end to single sex events and talks. I was once asked to speak at a large accounting firm about gender equality and when I looked out across the room, the company had only invited its women to attend. For a change I had to ask “where are all the men, I am sure they too are worthy of a seat in the room today at IWD?!”
Let’s join together in this conversation. What has worked for you?
And please reach out and book a call if you would like to discuss how to impact your D&I goals this year through impartial mentoring of your emerging leaders and talent: Book a Call