Where would we be without women?

Through the ages, women have made life changing contributions to the world as we know it. And few men seem to realise that, no matter how tall, big, tough and strong they are now, they started out life inside a woman! Why, then, do too many men show such a lack of respect for women?

As more and more companies are starting to realise that adopting a strategy of inclusion and diversity isn’t just a feel good exercise but a business imperative, we should be examining deeply ingrained gender bias in the workplace that favours men at the expense of women.

It’s become clear that companies with a good representation of women at senior/executive level perform better than those who do not have such representation. It’s therefore of value to acknowledge the role women have played and continue to play in the lives of all of us.

Apart from giving us a shot at life by carrying us for the first forty weeks, women have continued to make significant contributions to humanity. A quick name dropping exercise will provide ample demonstration. Consider Florence Nightingale’s impact on nursing, Mother Theresa’s work among the poor, orphaned, sick and dying, and Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white person on a bus in Montgomery, Tennessee.

In apartheid South Africa, on 9 August 1956, women marched to the Union Buildings, the seat of government, in Pretoria to petition against the pass laws in place at the time. This day is now commemorated as Women’s Day in South Africa.

If you consider the political, social and economic environments these different women faced at the time of their actions, you have to marvel at the courage they demonstrated. Where would we be if it were not for the courage of these and other women through the ages and even today?

We need to acknowledge the wonderfully rich, warm, noble and profound presence, influence and contribution of women in the lives of men, women and children on Planet Earth. Not one person can claim not to have been touched by a woman at some time in their lives. Indeed, as I previously indicated, every single one of us has a mother to thank for nurturing us before we knew who we were and for giving birth to us.

I therefore wish to honour all women in every walk of life, whether they be performing the role of spouse, partner, mother, businesswoman, employee, charity worker, musician, medical professional, community leader, sportswoman or any other role in their home, company or community.

Thank you for what you have done for, and have been to, those around you as well as those further afield you have touched.

In times when too many children grow up without a father in their lives, it is single mums, aunts and grandmothers who are standing in the gap to attempt to compensate for the absence of “runaway fathers” who have failed to accept responsibility for their children. I salute these women!

To those women in the workplace who feel that they have to sell their birthright as women in order to be a success in the boardroom, I say, “Please don’t! It’s not necessary. Your company needs your emotional intelligence, intuition and sensitivity in the new world of work.”

There is no need to sell out as a woman to build a career at work. Women don’t need to behave as men to cut it. Let men be men, and let women be women. The workplace needs the contribution of women. So, ladies, be yourself – be the woman you were meant to be. Live in the unique space you occupy in the universe. In that space, no-one else can be a better “you” than you.

Thank you for the passion with which you live your lives, for the commitment you show to making your homes a comfortable and safe place for your families, for the contributions you have made to making the world a better place.

I have had a number of women who have touched my life through the years – in chronological order they include my mother, my grandmothers, my two sisters, my wife, my three daughters, female colleagues and associates I have worked with, family friends and others. I recognise that a large part of who I am was determined by the women in my life and, for that, I am deeply grateful.

To all the women of every nation I therefore say, “Thank you!” You are a wonderful, refreshing presence in the lives of those of us who are fortunate enough to have been touched by your lives.

To all men, I say, “Show your appreciation to the women in your life both at home and at work by treating them with respect and dignity – and not only today, this week or this month. Make it a lifetime commitment. Put their needs before yours and you will find that you will reap what you sow – much success, happiness and fulfillment. Don’t be selfish and think only of your needs. Remember, the final destination of selfishness is self – and that’s a very, very lonely place to be.

Let’s make our countries, communities, companies and homes places where the women working or living there feel accepted, safe and recognised for who they are and for their contribution to making the world a better place!

Alan Hosking is the Publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net and @HRFuturemag. He is a recognised authority on leadership skills for the future and teaches both experienced business leaders and Millennial managers how to lead with integrity, purpose and agility. In 2018, he was named by US-based web site Disruptordaily.com as one of the “Top 25 Future of Work Influencers to Follow on Twitter”.

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