International Women’s Day 2020

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It’s International Women’s Day on Sunday – 8th March – and the theme this year is #EachforEqual. #EachforEqual is all about what IWD calls “Collective Individualism”; that means together we can help create a more gender equal world. To mark the day, I wanted my blog to reflect that.

Today’s post comes from the international woman (she’s Welsh) Kate Graham; Kate is a person who I admire and respect greatly. She is a walking embodiment of the #IWD2020 values of fighting bias, improving situations, and celebrating women’s achievements for her work with #WomenInLearning.

Kate, over to you…

I am woman, hear me roar

Obviously Andrew is not a woman and for this reason he has generously asked me to write a guest post for his blog in recognition of International Women’s Day which takes place on Sunday. 

The reason I accepted Andrew’s invitation is because his support of women goes far beyond a token effort around one day a year. Since being a part of the launch of #WomenInLearning last year, his support has been unequivocal. Actions speak louder than words and he has already made a real difference in championing female colleagues and peers. But I don’t want to embarrass him as he didn’t invite me here to talk about him.

In just 12 months we’ve gathered huge momentum. Nearly 1000 people have joined the #WomenInLearning group (people of all genders, this is all about inclusivity and you can’t work on something like this without factoring in intersectionality across race, age, disability, culture, socio-economic background…it might lead on gender but at its heart this is about equality in all forms). We’ve had global support at industry events, given interviews, guested on podcasts and are busy setting up something particularly close to my heart, a mentoring and coaching scheme to help support women right across the industry. And that’s just for starters (everyone involved has day jobs as well!)

Lunchtime Women in Learning session. Image courtesy of Kate Graham

But why now? Truth be told, none of this was planned. It is all an accident of timing. And the response has been tremendous. Post #MeToo the world is changing. And whilst it’s too soon to tell if we’ve made a dent in the original research Donald H Taylor conducted that shows women are not reaching the top roles in L&D, there is an overwhelming sentiment that enough is enough and it’s time for a change. 

Women are contacting us with their challenges and to talk about their experiences. This is a network that is growing and expanding day-by-day. In the last week alone we’ve been able to support a brave young woman through a tough situation at work. And suddenly, magically, we can find ourselves in a place where women aren’t afraid to be heard.

Lunchtime Women in Learning session. Image courtesy of Kate Graham

Male bosses, peers and colleagues are also contacting us asking how they can help or get involved. Many have always been balanced and inclusive when it comes to gender, but I do believe what we’re doing here is opening people’s eyes. And once you see the imbalance, it becomes almost impossible to unsee it. Just look at the speaker line-up of any conference and you can instantly see if that organisation is paying any heed to gender balance and the voices of women. 

What Andrew is doing – and now more men like him – is speaking up on our behalf.

Lunchtime Women in Learning session. Image courtesy of Kate Graham

And if we all roar together, just think about what we can change.

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