International Women's Day 2023
Updated: 3 hours ago
I want my daughter to grow up in an environment where gender equality is a reality. And on that front, women are still at a clear disadvantage. When it comes to workplace inclusion, this means removing cultural and financial blockers that prevent women from reaching their full potential. It also means being honest about the impact the necessary changes will have on the main incumbents – i.e. men.
I can see three areas that could make a massive difference if addressed – clearly there are more – and are within the grasp of most employers.
Most organisations I worked for had, overall, a balanced workforce. But the higher up you went, the more cis gender straight male the corporate profile became. This is about establishing transparent and fair growth pathways that give equal chance to both men and women. This is about women in positions of power and leadership being and acting as role models for their younger peers. This is about making it visible that women can reach the top of their organisation to give confidence to their junior peers they too can make it.
Equal Parenting Policies and Benefits
Most organisations I worked for could materially improve their support to future parents. Some firms, including FIL, Invesco or Aviva, have shown that it is possible to adopt inclusive family-friendly policies without jeopardising their business profitability and long-term strategy. Without such support, women cannot succeed professionally.
Last, but not least, women undergo massive physiological changes throughout their lives. And it impacts all women at different levels. As a man, I do not pretend to understand even a fraction of it. But what I do know, is that being able to listen and care, being flexible and offering support during tough times is critical. That applies at work as much as at home.
For anyone, women and allies alike, a good place to start, is to challenge our management in constructive ways. Such transformative change can only happen through true employee / employer partnership. But we, as employees, cannot expect things to happen by “magic”, and if we don’t ask we will not get…
The pace of change is too slow; and the longer it takes, the more entrenched the incumbents become. I strongly believe this will only change if firms and their leaders start acknowledging it is not possible to make such change without impacting men. Bold and courageous decisions are required. Waiting for all men to be on board with that is like inviting a turkey to the Christmas banquet; they won't join if they understand what it means for them.