Lizee Butler, Lead HR Business Partner – Group Sales, Computacenter
I sit writing this on 19 November. Perhaps not a date that immediately jumps out to you but it is, in fact, International Men's Day. I'm not sure how you feel when you hear, or are told, that there is an ‘International Men's Day'. Let me tell you, I certainly had a few differing thoughts go through my mind when I first heard about it and I've also listened to many views from others.
But let me tell you why this day exists. It is to amplify the positive influence that the men in our lives have on us, to highlight role models and to put the focus on men's health and wellbeing. As a daughter who names her Dad as her biggest role model, I know first-hand the positive impact a man can have and, when I look at some of the statistics around men's mental health and suicide rates, it is all too clear why a day that puts a focus on these topics is as relevant now as it has ever been.
And when it comes to inclusion and creating a culture where everybody can thrive, I am always so passionate about highlighting role models.
‘You can't be what you can't see' is one of the quotes that I forever find myself using in my role and I am always looking for ways to highlight and promote role models across my life, organisation and industry in general. So, a day, for men, that highlights positive role models amongst men and puts a much-needed focus on health and wellbeing, well, I don't have much to argue with about that!
But why am I talking about this now? Well, Computacenter are proud sponsors of the Women in Tech Festival again for 2021. ‘Women only' events in industry can get similar reactions to that of International Men's Day. So, let's take a look again at just a couple of reasons why events like this exist:
- Women are still significantly underrepresented in the Tech Industry. An event focussed on creating a safe space where shared challenges can be discussed openly is a great way to build confidence, and networks, among attendees.
- These events highlight role models in the industry and therefore, women in tech can see somebody, who looks like them, in a position they aspire to.
International Men's Day and Women in Industry events don't seek to exclude an audience. At their very heart, they seek to create positive change. Gender equality is so often focussed on equality for women (and, as a woman in business, believe me, I understand why!) but equality has to be just that; equality for all. We need to challenge, and ultimately remove, gender stereotypes for men and women alike. And we shouldn't feel worried about the existence of these types of days or events. We should seek to educate ourselves around why they exist today and move ourselves from misunderstanding or wariness to a place of support and coalition. Because, if we educate ourselves on challenges that people different to us are facing then maybe we can create a mutual circle of support and change. And then, maybe, just maybe, in time we won't need these events anyway…