This past week, social media was filled with the faces of talented women making the case for change on gender representation and inclusion within the leadership of our firms and societies. And with good reason.
Data Sources: Data on female inclusion and representation, from McGregor-Smith Report (2017), McKinsey & Co Why diversity matters Report (2020).
Inspired by American liberalists, the first International Women's Day was held on 19th March 1911, marked by over a million people across Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. Within 7 years, except for Switzerland, those countries and others like the UK confirmed women's right to vote into legislation. But since then, there have been few as-significant milestones in the fight for gender equality.
Allyship throughout history
When it comes to credit for the US civil rights movement, very few white people are mentioned. However historians have shown that, at great personal cost, white activists were front and centre alongside black people in the fight for de-segregation and social justice that culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Allyship is defined by Merriam Webster as 'the state or condition of being an ally - a supportive association with another person or group - specifically the members of a marginalized or mistreated group to which one does not belong'.
In recent years, men have increasingly entered the conversation around women's rights, as campaigns like #MeToo, #ChooseToChallenge and #BreakTheBias have shone a clear light on little understood and often dismissed oppression still faced by marginalised women seeking nothing other than a chance to reach their potential.
Popular male figures such as Terry Crews, Harry Belfonte, John Legend and Mark Ruffalo are advancing this conversation by speaking up for what's right. But history shows us those prepared to sacrifice their privilege for equality by actively pushing outgroup rights can expect economic reprisals, often losing jobs, physical violence, even the ultimate price. Perhaps that's why today fewer notable non-black voices are prepared to champion black rights.
Women cannot #BreakTheBias alone
Only men can do that, because it is we who suffer from the bias. After all, you don't need to be a woman to campaign for women's rights. Men are equally capable of championing the case for change, providing they can manifest altruistic free-will, instead of being motivated by instinctive self-interest.
As a leading male voice on social justice in banking and champion of women's workplace rights everywhere, I felt dejected without a single booking for IWD2022. Then I learnt it wasn't personal.
Our entire world, every organisation it seems, is blind to the power of allyship as the only effective strategy against oppression. So next IWD, we want to propose a different approach that would finally move the dial for women.
Firms and ERG's seeking speakers for flagship events should expand their search to also include inspiring men championing rights for women.
Every passionate woman motivated to strike a pose should also seek to engage just one man to repost on their behalf, adding an additional hashtag #menbreakingthebias.
Need a hand to #BreakTheBias at your organisation?
'How to finally break the bias on Gender representation' is one of our signature lectures told to academic standards by our team of internationally acclaimed, award winning DE&I consultant speakers. They explain the nature, drivers and costs from gender misconceptions and under representation in the workplace, then coach meaningful, accessible and effective ways to rebalance representation for financial success. When you're firm is ready to advance your uncomfortable conversations into action territory, contact us to get started. Change...