Empowering the allies: How companies engaged their male employees on Women's Day 2023
International Women's Day acknowledges the worldwide social, economic, cultural, and political accomplishments of women. It serves as a reminder of the progress that has been made in the pursuit of gender equality and the continuing efforts needed to establish a fair and impartial society. Although the day is mainly focused on honouring women, it is crucial to acknowledge that men have a vital role to play in advancing gender equality. As equality among sexes is not only a women's issue but a human rights issue that has an impact on everyone, making it essential for men to participate in this movement.
In recent years, organisations have been increasingly recognising the importance of including men in Women's Day celebrations to promote inclusivity, raise awareness, and foster dialogue about gender equality. While some organise events to encourage men to become allies for change, others offer training and education to raise awareness about the challenges women face in the workplace. To find out how workplaces included men in the celebration in 2023, People Matters spoke to a few experts and here is what we found out:
Organised expert sessions
In order to provide men with a space to learn and discuss issues related to gender equality, ENGIE India organised expert sessions to assist their male employees to become better allies to women. The sessions covered a wide range of topics, from unconscious bias and microaggressions to the impact of gender inequality on mental health. One of the key takeaways from the expert sessions was the importance of men's active participation in the fight for gender equality. While women have been leading the charge for gender equality for decades, it is important for men to recognise that they have a role to play as well. By actively working to challenge gender norms and biases, supporting women in their personal and professional lives, and advocating for gender equality in all areas of society, men can help create a world where women can thrive and succeed.
“ENGIE India believes in embracing equity to forge harmony and unity to drive success for all peers. To encourage greater parity in organisations like ENGIE India, being the HR Head, I strongly believe that involving male employees in Women's Day celebrations is paramount. Gender equality should not be a one-time event or initiative, but an ongoing effort to create a culture of inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. We at ENGIE India always state the fact that everyone has a role to play in constructing a more gender-balanced world. This Women’s Day, ENGIE hosted a session by a woman expert to imbibe gender equality and make positive progress for women worldwide,” told Ms Beenal Raychura, HR Head, Engie India
“This session promoted gender sensitivity and inclusivity in the workplace and helped men understand the challenges that women face in their professional and personal lives, and encourage them to be more supportive of their female colleagues/sisters/wives/mothers. This also helped male staff recognise the contributions of women and feel inspired to support their female colleagues,” added Raychura.
Sensitised male employees
In several organisations, men still hold a disproportionate amount of power and influence, which can make it difficult for women to advance in their careers and have their voices heard. By raising awareness among male employees, businesses are taking an important step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all. One such company is Envision, a company that provides wind turbines and energy management software.
“At Envision, we have a long-standing history of promoting gender parity at work, particularly considering that women occupy only 21% of roles in the Wind Energy sector. One effective approach we followed to foster gender equality and inclusivity is ensuring that Women’s Day is not kept insular only to the women in the organisation. We also engaged male employees to create awareness and sensitise them on the significance of Women’s Day and how gender bias and inequality impact women’s lives. Further, conversations and actions on the key issue of equality in the workplace are not just limited to Women’s Day at Envision. It requires continued advocacy, and our male leaders have always been vocal proponents of gender equality and establishing as well as following an inclusive agenda,” said Ms Kripa Saranya, Head HR and Admin, Envision Energy.
Celebrated men's contributions
Organisations around the world recognised the contributions of male employees who have worked tirelessly to promote gender equality in the workplace. From supporting female colleagues to advocating for gender-inclusive policies and practices, these men have made a real difference in creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace. On International Women’s Day, ONGC highlighted the importance of male allies in the fight for gender equality through discussions and workshops that focused on topics such as male allyship, gender equality, and diversity and inclusion.
“Engaging male members in International Women’s Day celebrations is vital. This is not just a day when we celebrate women, but also the human spirit that brings out the best in every circumstance. ONGC has a unique workplace where we have to spend 14 days in remote offshore and onshore oil and gas installations away from family. I am proud to share that we have been successful in having both genders actively participate even in that distinctive format. This is possible only because the male members completely engaged in having their female peers work shoulder-to-shoulder in such remote locations and on the IWD, we celebrated this very spirit,” revealed Mr Pankaj Kumar, Director (Human Resource), ONGC Ltd.
Encouraged to be the catalysts for positive change
Male employees have a unique perspective and set of experiences that can help to drive change. They are often in positions of power and influence within organisations, and as such, they have the ability to create meaningful change in the workplace. By encouraging male employees to become advocates for change, Baazi Games leveraged the power and influence of individuals to help promote gender equality and create a more inclusive workplace culture. “The theme for this year was #EmbraceEquity, which in essence is about encouraging a healthy balance of diversity to create a better workplace,” said Pranay Prakash, CHRO, Baazi Games.
“Yet most men do not actively seek to personally and visibly reach a consensus. While driving diversity, we tend to forget the contributions men make to a woman's success. Our male colleagues play a pivotal role in being the 'agents of change' to enable the diversity agenda, but they also need to be encouraged from time to time. Hence, on this Women’s Day, Baazi Games encouraged men to be active participants in appreciating women - be it in their lives, or at the workplace. It is important to sensitise men about women's development as well as their well-being and growth, which will help our female colleagues get support. We also motivated men in the organisation need to be more participative in initiatives around health, education and livelihood,” concluded Prakash.