International Women’s Day: It’s not about me – or is it?

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Confirmit Team

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‘Can you write something for International Women’s Day’, she said. Smiling, as she did so. 

‘Sure’, I replied. Gulp. 

And while I know this is something that matters to me - while I know this is a good thing to do, I also suspected that the last person, may be even the least qualified to speak on this subject, would be yet another middle-aged white guy. No matter how well meaning, surely, I represent THE ENEMY? It’s not about me? 

Or is it? 

I have a daughter. As a father, I want her life and future to be the very best they can be, as chosen by her. Certainly, I’d like her to have the chance to take every opportunity she can, freely able to make the choices she wants. I don’t see this as an especially radical thought. But to my mind, the hopes I have for her have reinforced a perspective in me that the playing field remains far from level. There are more role models for her now than when I grew up. It’s easier for her to look at the world and see people who look like her playing a part that matters. 

But, blimey. Some of them are given a hard time for it. For every accurate and balanced piece of reporting in the media, I suspect there are more people reading the incendiary pieces designed to incite anger and sell more advertising space. And the fog between fact and opinion is where some pretty unpleasant behavior hides. It’s not on. But how many men call this out when we see it? Still not enough, I suspect.  

At this point, someone will say that it’s better than it was 30 or 40 years ago – and that’s probably true in some ways. But there is more to be done. 

I would certainly be horrified to find myself in a position where I’m part of the problem – an obstacle or barrier (consciously or otherwise) for someone else’s daughter, wife, mother, sister, friend. And yet – here we are. The barriers are real and sadly experienced by far too many every day. We still need to do more. 

Beyond the obvious need for everyone to call out inequality when it’s found, I also think there’s another way to look at this. 

I’ll share a secret with you. Each time I walk into a meeting and there are only men in the room, I sigh inside a little. My brain says something like, ‘our options have just narrowed’. Like it or not, different people think differently – and I’m not for a moment suggesting that all middle-aged white guys think the same (because they don’t), but how can any of them approach a problem or challenge from the perspective of something they are not. There’s a point when empathy surely has to make way for experience?  

If people only recruit colleagues in their own image then surely you risk limiting your thinking and potential? It may be more comfortable initially for some, but longer term the results will suffer. So, if results are the thing that matter to you, then it may be worth asking if you can achieve more by being more inclusive? 

My belief is that teams of people are more creative and inventive when they include a diversity of people (as my colleague Shirley pointed out in her blog yesterday). It’s not about diversity for the sake of it. It’s about ensuring you get a view beyond your own experience so you can learn and become better at what you do. Might sound all highfalutin and fancy, but I actually think it’s pretty simple. And, guess what? We can all do more. 

I knew I shouldn’t have got into this! So what am I saying? In no order of importance: 

  • Actively work to promote and support women. 
  • Use the internet as a creative tool to make life better. Not as a weapon. 
  • Treat others how you’d like to be treated yourself – be inclusive and respectful. 

Just a thought. Thanks.