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Gloria Steinem, a world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained ‘the story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts for all who care about human rights.’
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EachforEqual, with the day aiming to highlight that an equal world is an enabled world and that collectively, each one of us can help create a world where gender does not prevent equality. To mark the day, we asked some of the female leaders at Colt, as well as Carl Grivner – Colt’s CEO, for their thoughts on International Women’s Day, on equality more broadly and what the concept means to them.
Suchitra Rajendra – Country Head India and Global HR Head for Colt’s Chief Operating Officer organisation
Why would I want to wear only one colour, have only one flower in my garden or be surrounded by just one kind of tree? Would I want to eat only one type of food or wake up each day to nothing new?
The reason I love to travel is to explore different cultures, different lifestyles and appreciate the diversity of humankind. I make friends who open my mind to new perspectives and every time I experience something different, I evolve. If just the thought of living in a monotone world scares me, then why would I want to work in an organisation which would not appreciate diversity of thought, ideas, backgrounds and attitudes?
#EachforEqual represents a day of celebrating the joy of having a workplace that actively discusses and removes barriers that prevent any person from being less than equal just because of their gender, background or beliefs. This day encourages us to have conversations that helps us reflect on our biases, which may cause us not to appreciate a new idea or perspective. It’s a day when we encourage each employee to think of how they can make Colt a place where each one of us is truly equal no matter what. For me, this day matters, since it helps me reflect on what I can do to encourage more women not only to participate but enable them to contribute and grow both as individuals as well as members of our Colt family.
Dolores Currie – UK Country Representative and Senior Bid Manager
International Women’s Day is about having the conversation, raising awareness and celebrating how far we have come, but not allowing ourselves to be complacent, as we still have a long road ahead of us. It’s about making a difference, consciously taking one step at a time, to call out when things are not equal, supporting those that require our help and being prepared to stand up and be counted.
It’s also about a wish for the future, to be able to celebrate differences. A future where we can all reach out and pull others up with us, so that they can equally share the same space without recrimination, without fear of favouritism, of nepotism, of tokenism. A future where we debunk the myths, take back the language and thought processes and celebrate all human beings equally.
When individually, we act and own our equality, we bring the best of ourselves to the table. Allyship, mentorship, stewardship and sponsorship moves off the agenda and conversations gallop towards renunciation of gender stereotypes. We can speak openly about our experiences, about period pains, menopause, motherhood, or choosing to be single and not having children, and so on. Our language needs to catch up with our intent and our behaviour, as only then will each for equal become the new norm.
Ruth Welter – Regional Sales Director, DACH Region
In Germany, only 31% of leadership positions are held by women, and there are still blockades for women in the workplace, which are often fuelled by gendered stereotypes. There have been stages in my own business life, where my career aspirations have not been valued in the same way as those of my male colleagues. I’ve even heard comments such as; “you don’t really need to work as a woman, you mainly do it to buy your next handbag. Men have to fund a family instead.”
Studies have shown that companies with more than 30% of their leadership team being comprised of women benefit from a 15% increase in net revenue compared to companies with less female leaders. The same effect applies to non-gender diversity. Diversity brings a multiplication of perspectives, broader experiences, different approaches to challenges and market changes and the coverage of a wider target group.
There are multiple areas in life and business where we need to do more. For me, International Women’s Day is an important day to highlight that we need to continue to follow a transformational path. We need to integrate diversity as a serious part of corporate principles and values. Women need to understand their strengths and the value that they bring to companies, and all businesses need to value different life paths and see the benefits they bring for success. Not the least, women need to support each other and ask for support. Support and networking are key. As Iwani Mawocha, an African actress and writer, says: “Be the person you needed when you were younger.”
Georgina Chu – Regional Head of Strategic Alliances, APAC
Growing up in a Chinese family as their firstborn carried very high expectations from my parents. First of all, they would have preferred me to have been a son and to pick up the financial burden of the entire family. On the other hand, they were anxious to marry their daughter to a husband who could provide for her for the rest of her life.
With this background, I celebrate International Women’s Day as a day that supports women across the world to be themselves. I have been able to follow my passion and build a successful career, despite the influence of family and wider society. Everyone should be able to have the same opportunities, to follow their passions and create a life that they want to live for themselves.
Carl Grivner – CEO
For me, International Women’s Day is about fairness, diversity of thought and inclusion. It’s important when making decisions about our customers and employees that we incorporate as many different perspectives as possible. Sometimes “simple” decisions are not that simple because we may not have heard another person’s viewpoint. So this day is important to me because it is a wake-up call for businesses and individuals to reflect on their fairness and inclusion barometer.
There is still more to be done. But we are moving towards a more equal and inclusive world, and at Colt, we are committed to creating an environment where everyone feels they can thrive.