This was the week of International Women's Day and I feel I must comment.
It's been ages since my last blog on here so there's lots to write about, but #IWD and feminism are so hugely important for the world that I have to start there.
As blokes we have lots more to do to sort ourselves out
I emphasise the we, because although I'm a proud feminist, I'm also a pretty crap one. I don't understand enough, and a lifetime of living in our still patriarchal society means I carry a load of assumptions and learned behaviours that still influence my communication with women, potentially reinforcing inequality and certainly, sometimes, unintentionally, disempowering women and making them feel less happy than they ought to be. I'm not beating myself up here, because mostly I'm well intentioned and I've already learned so much and been inspired by fabulous women through my upbringing and adult relationships, as well as learning from some awful mistakes. But I do intend to keep on learning.
Gender is super important in your work, OBVIOUSLY
The women and men you work with spend their days in a soup of sexual politics. Maybe it's getting a bit better, for some people in some circumstances, but it's still there, it's changing too slowly, and it's a gross injustice. For your company, charity or project to work as effectively as it can - so it produces the best widgets, or delights its customers, or makes change happen faster, or improves our world - it must enable women to lead and to enjoy their work on equal terms with men. We can't be complacent about this, because negative gender politics keeps coming back. It's insidious. Some men seem to want to subjugate women, and it's not just older men like the obscene D Trump, it's younger blokes too, apparently brought up in an equal society yet all too willing to deride and assault women to sate their sexual appetite or assuage their inadequacies.
Consider it risk management
If you aren't actively managing risk in your project or organisation, I really recommend you do. It sounds bureaucratic, the sort of thing your accountant or nanny might tell you, but it's actually a structure for your creativity and success. Call me if you need help with it.
What better way of embedding a progressive, anti-sexist, pro women and girls culture in your organisation than ensuring that gender issues are on your risk assessment? You'll make sure that issues faced by women and girls are always considered, whether its in development of HR policy or design of a service, and through your discussions you will all learn about your values, each other's experiences and the opportunity to make life better for all of us.
Check yourself - your attitude to International Women's Day
I noticed yesterday that the fabulous JK Rowling tweeted on the common knee jerk tendency of some non feminists to respond to IWD with "hang on, let's be fair to men too". Is that you? Honestly? Because if it is please take a few moments to reflect. Women are systematically oppressed by our society in a way that men are not. Yes we have our challenges and insecurities, but women are hugely undervalued and underpaid, stereotyped, coerced, abused, raped and murdered. It's not acceptable, it just isn't, and it deserves a positive effort from all of us. IWD is great, but it's a drop in the ocean. It's not acceptable to respond to a campaign for the rights of disabled people by saying "yeah, what about the able bodied, when does anybody do anything for us?", is it?