We all have a crucial role in being allies to foster gender equality
Originally published on LinkedIn by POUL WEIHRAUCH, President, Global Petcare, Mars
I’ve said it before - there is no room for discrimination of any kind in a healthy society. As we think about how important gender equality is for society and for businesses to be successful, I’ve been reflecting on the findings in our new global listening report called #HereToBeHeard.
If you have a chance, please read it, because it contains deeply personal perspectives of women calling for a breakdown of the barriers they face all too often. This report represents the voices of 10,000 women in 88 countries and what it amounts to is that women have issued a powerful call to businesses, governments, communities, and men for fundamental change.
One of the statistics from the report that struck me since I first read it: 71 percent of women stressed that men play a critical role – either as allies in solutions or as barriers to progress.
As a male leader in a global business with around 100,000 Associates – more than half of them women – I am unequivocal in my conviction that men are, and need to be, part of the solution. Growing up in Denmark, the first nation to allow same-sex marriage and the second nation to advocate for female rights through actions such as establishing International Women's Day in 1910, I feel lucky to have been raised in a context that addresses discrimination and promotes diversity. Perhaps in part because of this experience, I've been passionate about inclusion from a young age, and believe diverse businesses, experiences and leaders are essential to unlocking the potential of all of our Associates and our business.
Accountable for being part of the change
The #HereToBeHeard report offers some further insights into the work we’ve been doing at Mars Petcare to support gender equality and helps to further inform our gender equality strategies. While I know there is always more to do, together with my colleagues we’ve already set some clear goals against which we will measure progress. Amongst other strategies to promote diversity and inclusion across our business, we’re working to increase female representation with 100% of our leadership teams gender-balanced and 50% female representation across our management and General Manager populations. Accountability and making conscious choices are vital when it comes to building a more inclusive environment. And, let’s continue to be part of the solution by listening, learning, and doing more.
Some time ago I read an article in a newspaper (you know, a real one on printed paper). In one of the articles, a woman wrote about how so far the gender debate was women playing on the pitch, and men needed to be invited down to join. I personally think we should walk down to the pitch and play together. Only then can the match be won. And it’s about time.