Our MD, Gavin Best, was keen to encourage support within Veredus for this International Women’s Day and asked a small group of us to consider what IWD actually means to us and how we feel about the struggle for gender equality. Here are a few of our personal thoughts…
What is the purpose of IWD?
International Women’s Day is about taking the time to celebrate women, past, present and future. It was created to honor those women who have achieved great things – in the name of women across the world, in business, politics, the academic world, the written word, philanthropy; the fight for equality in every corner and cross-section.
Where do you see the balance falling presently?
However far we have come, sexism remains prevalent. It is pervasive and insidious and interwoven into every aspect of society. Recognising it, addressing it and adjusting our behaviours is a constant battle that requires energy and concentration and effort – and it isn’t just for men to do. As women, we regularly find ourselves falling back into habits and tropes that damage our own plight to encourage gender equality. We conform to social stereotypes and expectations. We don’t challenge harmful behaviours in others. We are negative towards fellow women when we should be positive. These are things that we must invest time and determination into to correct.
Women often hear the words ‘not all men’ bandied around in response to talking openly about their adverse experiences – but if we, as reasonably intelligent, forward-thinking, considerate, western women, are guilty of sexism, which has existed so long in our culture, it’s virtually impossible for any person – not just a man – to say ‘not me’. Just as when a member of the BAME community says ‘white people discriminate against me’, it is not enough to say ‘not me’. There are three approaches available to you
You can listen and acknowledge, confident that, whilst the complaint is real, you do not contribute to it
You can listen and acknowledge, take steps to be aware of and change any potentially damaging behaviours you recognise in yourself (and encourage others to do so)
You can centre yourself and your feelings and react in a harmful way – ‘not me!’.
Option two is most applicable to the majority of us. Admitting that you are party to the problem, that you contribute to it, that perhaps you even encourage it, consciously or subconsciously, is a huge step forward. What you do with that knowledge is even more important. Whilst we are not standing on soap boxes or burning our bras, more and more we are determined to challenge things that we believe are contrary to this fight for equality, and that is what International Women’s Day 2021 is all about - being supportive, being an ally, choosing to challenge!
This week we will be issuing a number of thought-provoking articles in support of women and the various issues they face in the world of business. We hope to spark conversation and encourage consideration for these topics in order to improve collaboration, diversity of thought and inclusiveness in the workplace.
Emily Kneller - Veredus