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Men, take 1 small action on International Women’s Day

“The fastest way to change society is to mobilise the women of the world” (Charles Malik)

I like Malik’s quote; it’s simple and common sense.  That is, immobilising 50% of the population is not common sense.

From a business perspective another one-liner caught my attention recently:

“The UK could add £0.6 trillion additional annual GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality” 

I was fortunate enough to be watching Vivian Hunt of McKinsey present at Pro Manchester’s annual Greater Manchester Business Conference, when the above headline smacked me between the eyes.  Vivian was discussing McKinsey’s Diversity Matters and Gender Parity reports.  The message was loud and clear:

Gender equality is a business issue, not a women’s issue.    

I’ve led with the ‘business’ case because I expect this is the context in which you’re reading this post.  But as husbands, partners, dads, sons, brothers, friends etc, surely there’s no disputing that gender equality is a societal issue – a humanitarian issue – not a women’s issue. 

That’s why, in early 2015, I was delighted to take 1 small action – a commitment to HeForShe: a “movement of people around the world standing together to create a bold, visible force for gender equality”.  The campaign gained momentum with UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson‘s popular speech in 2014.

This year the movement made a powerful showing at Davos 2016, which included the unveiling of the inaugural HeForShe Parity Report.  At the time of writing this post, HeForShe had tracked 1.2 billion gender equality actions from people like you and me.

And that’s the great thing about campaigns like HeForShe: anyone can contribute towards change.  A ‘bottom up’ approach – a refusal to accept gender inequality at any level within an organisation – is just as impactful as an enlightened board.

So my “plea” today – on International Women’s Day – is for the men in my business network and beyond to make their own commitment towards gender parity.  Whether that’s in business, education, health, politics… whatever domain.

What specifically can you do? Any of the below for starters… 

  1. Like and  share this post, please!
  2. Make the commitment to take action through HeFor She. The website gives practical examples of actions, from increasing the ‘noise’ on social media (#HeForShe), to helping reduce unconscious bias in hiring and promoting.
  3. Make a “Pledge for Parity” via the International Women’s Day website.
  4. Read content from the likes of 30% Club, An Inspirational Journey, Northern Power Women et al, and join in the conversation.
  5. Book to attend just ONE of the scores of ‘Women in Business’/’Girls in Tech’ type events that I guarantee are happening near you in the next month.
  6. Just be consciously aware of nonsensical barriers for 50% of society. 

Take one small action today.  For the women and men in your life; for current and future generations; for your colleagues, your career… your bottom line.

Happy International Women’s Day. 

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