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Leadership Learning Opinion

Women in leadership and achieving equality in a Covid-19 world

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Jo French shares her thoughts on IWD and this year’s theme on “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world”. 

Last year I wrote a fun piece for International Women’s Day (IWD). If you didn’t read it, because we weren’t connected back then, you hadn’t found me online, or just because you didn’t want to, here it is again.

Since last year, I have been fortunate enough to be connected to some inspiring, helpful and appreciative women on LinkedIn, and that has branched out to chatting on Clubhouse.

I’ve been to network events in Adelaide and met up with a few people, some women are more like me, a bit more laid back, and if anyone wants our business, they’ll ask for details. But I still met some very assertive, old fashioned sales people that did all those things I’ve learned to avoid.

Overall, all I can think is that there are so many women in the workforce now. And in such a wide range of roles. I’ve spoken to female CEOs and CFOs, COOs and thought leaders. We are everywhere.

And on LinkedIn, we just seem to keep empowering each other. It’s not just a business social media platform. It’s an entirely different type of place where there is very little negativity, free sharing of ideas and background, and so much support. And yes, even from the men. But it’s not International Men’s Day is it? (Spoiler alert – that’s in November.)

So the women I have met in my past year have inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone, rethink what I am using my social media for, and have redirected my own sales techniques. Don’t worry, I’m still super laid back. But now I know what I want to try to convey to everyone online.

This year’s IWD theme is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world”, and honestly, all I have seen since Covid began supports that. From the frontline nurses looking after everyone admitted to a hospital, to the teachers providing education for the children of essential workers, and even the cleaning staff at the hospitals and medi-hotels.

Both men and women have been those nurses, teachers and cleaners. Men and women have been actors, bosses, business tycoons, carers, and every role imaginable. There is no reason why we cannot be equal. None. Not based on physical attributes, mental or emotional ones either. We are made entirely the same way as each other, and are entitled to equal treatment, equal pay, equal rights, everything. Every gender is the same: human.

Source: https://csp6.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/doing-gender-and-sexuality/

In the acting world, it is a genderless fight to enable women to receive the same pay as men in their roles. The Time’s Up movement is charging forward, hoping to set new standards and equality as a norm in movies. The late (and fantastically great) Chadwick Boseman took a paycut to free up money to pay Sienna Miller equally in “21 Bridges”.

In the sporting world, things are very similar. Top grade athletes, playing for their country, are paid less than male athletes, who may or may not make it as far in their tournaments. The Matildas spoke about their second jobs that helped them get by during the World Cup. Ash Barty as the World #1 was not televised during a tournament, when instead viewers could watch Nick Kyrgios play as a lower ranked player.

The disparity is everywhere. But if we’ve spent hundreds of years being put in our place, and have only been trying to emerge and be equal in recent years (on a large scale), I think we’ve moved forward in leaps and bounds. During the Prehistoric Era, we were equal, only moving to a patriarchal society with the advent of farming. By the Middle Ages, women were treated as a completely different species, they were so far removed from males.

So we have approximately 500-600 years of incorrect thinking to reverse. I dare say, we’re doing that everywhere we can too! There have been calls to remove gender bias from adverts, commenters calling out even on individual posts correcting fallacies. There was a post recently I saw mentioning women in the workforce, with an image of a tall, slender woman in a pantsuit. The first comment I saw said that women didn’t have to look and dress like men to get the job done. The image was removed, so unfortunately I can’t show you here.

If we speak up every time we can, or support the comments and people trying to get the message across, it won’t take long. At least I can say in my lifetime I will see equality. And if this article means someone is going to completely overreact and call me a feminist, I know what that says about them.

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