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International Women’s Day 2020 #eachforequal

What #eachforequal means to me

When you see headlines such as it will take 217 years to close the gender gap or that no country will achieve gender parity by 2030 it is easy to believe that as an individual there is nothing you can do to make an impact. After all, when framed in those stark terms the task of achieving gender equality seems so overwhelming that no individual can make a difference.

My view is that whilst legislation and policies provide the framework for a level playing field it is only through the beliefs and actions of people that meaningful behavioural and cultural change is achieved. This has been the case throughout the fight for women’s equality and is as relevant today as it has always been.

We see this very clearly in our work with organisations that are looking to increase the gender diversity of their teams. All the organisations we work with have progressive parental leave and flexible working policies designed to support female progression by enabling men and women to take an active role in their careers and their home life. However, from coaching the mums, dads and managers that work in these organisations it is plain to see that regardless of company policy, the impact that an individual manager can have on the experience of a working parent is fundamental to whether that person can and will succeed.

Managers with a fixed mindset about the roles of parents can entrench gender stereotypes within their teams and unsupported or side-lined women tend to leave and the manager’s belief that working mums aren’t able to achieve career success becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Managers who are prepared to understand their own biases and set them aside to enable many versions of success in their team tend to create environments where working parents can thrive, and female progression doesn’t stall. Our coaching programmes bring together managers from across an organisation to share best practices, encourage understanding about the pressures of being a working parent and help managers realise the power and importance they have as individuals to be the drivers of change in their organisation.

That is just one small example of how #EachforEqual works but it is from the world that I can impact. Everyone else will have their sphere of influence and it is only by each of us working towards equality in the areas that we can change that wholesale change will occur. Yes, absolutely, there has to be a supportive legislative framework but never underestimate the power of one to influence positively. #EachforEqual.

Virginia Herlihy

CEO and Founder, How Do You Do It

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