As advocates for gender & diversity, we want to voice our support for International Men’s Day 2021. This year the theme is ‘Better Relations between Men and Women’. This simple concept encapsulates the core action needed to achieve and embrace diversity. This is vital to improve the level of understanding and connectivity between genders as a way to achieving equality in the workplace.
Better relations between men and women in the workplace embraces better communication, connectivity, sharing, openness and responsiveness. It requires us to break free of our unconscious bias and stereotypical gender straightjackets in order to work better together. It also compels us to be brave to make that connection and embrace diverse personal preferences, attitudes and skills.
The pandemic highlighted our vulnerabilities and frailties and the many disadvantages of working from home – mainly the reduced social connectiveness. COVID 19 disrupted the traditional structure of work and the workplace and work relations were impacted. While some areas of commerce thrived in the predominantly virtual world of 2020 and 2021, many others struggled. The wellbeing industry has recognised this. Several industry sectors are embracing the needs of staff by providing enhanced wellbeing resources.
Connectivity and strong bonds between colleagues in organisations are key to individual, team and organisational success. Establishing new relations and bonds between colleagues particularly with new recruits was and remains difficult. There is a risk of isolation, silos, lack of cohesion and connectivity within the entire business. This creates a threat to organisational culture. The challenge for business is to maintain strong organisational culture. This remains important even with geographic distance between colleagues and without benefit of observation, casual encounters and coffee station chats allowing colleagues to develop and grow. There is a need to encourage relations and connections other than in formal business context. It is in informal connections where understanding and empathy develops. The impact of COVID 19 is likely to be enduring. This puts the emphasis on men and women to take the step to open up lines of communication throughout organisations and not be afraid to be vulnerable in sharing issues and concerns. Colleagues should seek out help and support. We should all be attuned to recognising, acknowledging and rewarding the strengths and skills of colleagues and co-workers, which have become apparent throughout the pandemic.
It is self-evident that men are essential to the journey towards full equality. Promoting and supporting better relations between men and women must be supported as a key step towards greater understanding and connection between genders. There is a risk that if only women participate, we will miss out on 50% of the contribution from our community including those who traditionally held positions of power and influence. Men who currently dominate in the corporate and institutional arenas should be amenable to becoming champions and advocates for diversity and inclusion. This starts with better relations between men and women in the workplace and an understanding of issues most relevant to the diversity community. Equality is worth fighting for and differences should be celebrated.
Men and women have many different strengths that complement each other, and which are unique and valuable in the workplace. We support International Men’s Day theme to foster ‘Better Relations between Men and Women’. We encourage men and women to start a conversation in order to create and build better relations within organisations. Our hope is that this will foster a greater understanding of individual strengths and skills, embrace diversity promote a culture of inclusion and achieve gender equality.