You don’t have to be a woman to be a feminist
Today is International Women’s Day, where we rightly celebrate the achievements of women all over the world. Women who have had the courage to protest, speak out and challenge the status quo, women who collectively contribute to a fundamental shift in social, economic, cultural and political attitudes. Women who commit wholeheartedly to a gender parity mind-set.
But, #IWD is not just about women. Women can only make the progress and challenge gender stereotypes, when the men in their sphere of influence collaborate with them to accelerate gender parity and power equality worldwide. #IWD is about all of us. No matter your gender identity, if you are fighting for equality, you should be welcomed, encouraged and celebrated.
Over the years, I’m proud to say, I’ve made my own commitment to gender equality, particularly in the workplace. Having worked a lot of my early career in the engineering and manufacturing sector, a traditionally male dominated industry, I have been exposed to the very worst (and also the very best) examples of gender inequality.
Early in my career, a situation arose when I had to make a stand and speak out against an overt act of discrimination against female colleagues. My voice was heard and the change I stood for happened, but not without a backlash, so although I was angry, I responded with as much dignity as I could muster. The result was that I created a small shift in attitudes. It wasn’t until 2 decades later I learned the impact of those actions; the strength of character it took had been respected and valued by my (at that time) male dominated organisation, and unknown to me, it probably formed the bedrock of my career there.
The shift I created, could not have happened without the participation of male colleagues who shared the gender parity mind-set. It takes both sexes to achieve equality. Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of working with some fantastically feminist men, and so I would like to pay tribute to:
- My male line manager who appointed me as a Cell Manager in an engineering manufacturing facility when I was 6 months pregnant, where I returned post maternity leave.
- My male mentor who was my ambassador during 3 spells of maternity leave, who twice facilitated my return to a promotion.
- My terrific husband who has been my rock throughout my whole career, and a true advocate of feminism.
These are the men we should also be celebrating on IWD. These are the men, who make a stand for a shift in attitudes and commit to gender parity. These are the men, who often quietly in the background, are some of the enablers of great women.
And so on International Women’s Day, we are all being asked to commit to #PressforProgress for gender parity in our sphere of influence, and choose a specific area to concentrate on.
As a consultant, coach and leadership development facilitator, I have chosen to concentrate on influencing others’ beliefs and actions.
I will #PressforProgress and:
- supportively call-out inappropriate behaviour
- campaign for equality in meaningful ways
- lead by example via inclusive actions
- be a role model for equality
- actively contribute to changing the status quo
There is still a lot of work to be done, but if we all keep the gender parity mind-set at the forefront of our decision making, we can achieve a truly equal workplace.
If you would like to make your own commitment to #PressforProgress, you can do so at https://www.internationalwomensday.com/PressforProgress