LINKAGE Q1 (2022) - BREAK THE BIAS
There are many titles we hold in life that say something about who we are and how we are viewed by the world. Currently, besides being a CEO, a business leader, and an advocate for various causes, I am also a responsible citizen, devoted husband and father, and hopefully a role model to my kids.
I am immensely proud of all these titles and the message each conveys about my identity as a man in this world. I take pride in making sure I am doing everything possible to live up to the expectations these titles hold. Admittedly, sometimes I fall short but mostly I am always striving to learn from my mistakes and to do better the next time. That’s why I believe it’s important for each of us to become better partners and allies in creating a more equitable world for every citizen – women and men, girls and boys and those who identify differently.
Supporting women begins with actually listening to what women are trying to say to us and teaching us. So often when we hear about issues affecting women, we tend to ignore them, or we turn into superman trying to “save the day”. Clearly, that’s not what we should be doing. We need to amplify women’s voices by acknowledging their experiences and allowing them to be the author of their own lives. Our role should then be to listen, to learn, and to educate our sons and other men about these issues in a way that fosters trust and respect.
Reflecting on our own power and privilege as men offers another vital lesson to men. Recognising that certain opportunities were influenced largely by our gender will help teach self-awareness that can lead to understanding and empathy for the challenges that women face. This goes even beyond gender because we must acknowledge how different intersecting identities such as race, class, sexual orientation, religion, and ability are shaping the lived experiences of different individuals resulting in vastly different outcomes than our own.
Once we have made this connection, it’s now our responsibility to challenge the gender bias, discrimination and stereotypes that are reinforcing many levels of hate and prejudice in our world. As men, we can challenge sexism, misogyny, racism, and homophobia and speak up when we hear discriminatory language. We can hold each other accountable. We can see it, name it, stop it! We can also advocate for more inclusive policies in the workplace that will advance greater opportunities for women to be heard, seen, and valued. We must also work hard to close the gender pay gap, check our implicit bias when we are hiring and promoting employees, and create safer places for more women to succeed and grow.
All of this also extends to the home where the division of labor must be equal. Many women often report having their careers sidelined because of the disproportionate responsibilities associated with household labour, childcare, and all the invisible work they do that keeps the household functioning smoothly. Apart from taking on our full share of housework and childcare responsibilities, men can also advocate for better work-life balance measures at the workplace such as flexi-work policies. This can greatly alleviate the burden on women and help champion better opportunities for them to succeed both in the workplace and at home.
Finally, abuse and violence cannot be ignored. We must take responsibility for our actions based on the alarming statistics of women who have reported being both victims and survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. We must teach men to lead with empathy and compassion. We need to normalise men showing emotions in a non-aggressive manner and we need more men to seek support for their hurt and pain so that we end toxic masculinity.
None of this will change if we aren’t supporting women at every level of our society. That means doing what we can to proactively break the bias that prevents women from ascending to positions of power. That’s what I try to do in my life as a father, a husband, a leader, a boss and as a man! That’s what I hope we all commit to doing in the future so that we can break the bias around all of these issues.
In this issue of Linkage, we hope to challenge your beliefs on these issues to increase support for women and girls to succeed in life. I hope you enjoy the articles, and we look forward to your commitment to creating a more gender-equitable world for everyone.
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