International Women’s Day? Thanks, but no thanks.

International Women’s Day? Thanks, but no thanks.

Do we really need a day to celebrate women?

A couple of years ago, a carpenter friend Stan called to wish me happy International Women’s Day. Which is kinda weird; in the nicest possible way. It was a first for me, and it threw me.

I said to him ‘thank you, but I was amazing yesterday and I will be tomorrow and the day after etc’. We laughed, but within the joke was the point. Never a truer word spoken in jest and all that.

Are we at the point in our history when we have to have a day to recognise women as still worthy participants in the human race? The depressing answer is, yes, I guess we are.

You can probably tell. I’m not a fan of International Women's Day.

But I am a fan of international women, every day.

Logos going pink, a brand changing its male name to a female name for one day only.

Tokenism? Thank you, but no thank you.

Closing the gender pay gap, stopping sexual harassment, bullying and gaslighting? Yes please.

It’s 2021.

We were supposed to have flying cars and teleportation, instead we have a day that celebrates half the population of the planet.

I listened to Mary Portas’s amazing podcast, the kindness economy, where she and Elizabeth Day chatted about the world of work.

They spoke of how the world of work wasn’t constructed for women to succeed, in fact it’s only set up for one type to succeed, the white man. In fact, it’s set up for everyone else to fail.

I remember a time when I was asked to run a large petrol account. Brilliant I thought, I love driving, know everything there is to know about cars, how exciting.

The next day I was taken for a celebratory swanky lunch, only it wasn’t that kind of lunch.

It was the ‘sorry but the client wants a bloke’ kind of lunch.

Even though the bloke they asked was not fussed about cars or driving.

This was only 8 years ago.

We’ve moved away from this, but not far enough.

This shit still goes on, and, to be fair, post-pandemic, it's getting worse.

Women have suffered exponentially in Covid times, some UN research suggests that it’s put women’s rights back 50 years. Ugh.

But in an effort to keep my deckchair to the sun, I remain a cynical optimist.

Let’s be honest, the industry wasn’t in great shape pre-Covid, it had issues.

But in 2020 we’ve started talking about them.

Black lives matter, bullying, sexism, gaslighting, mental health.

We’ve had actual conversations, many of them comfortable, many uncomfortable, we’ve had a window into our colleagues and clients lives, seen what colour their hair really is, and whether they’re a cat, dog or new baby person.

The office culture of presenteeism disappeared overnight in place of spending time with the family at the dinner. All those people who for years battled to work from home, to be told they were shirking from home, vindicated. It works.

It’s not been easy but with great change comes opportunity. 

I feel optimistic.

I feel optimistic that we will grow and build better, healthier working practices. 

But we need to work at it. Not slip back into the pre-Covid blur, the cult of busy, burning adrenaline systems, never quite catching up with ourselves. Surely Covid has proved we can work and see our families without the eye rolls.

We can listen, support, talk, be honest with each other. We can help the voices that aren’t heard, be heard. We can learn. We can keep the conversations on pay, gender, inclusion, bullying alive. Keep questioning. We can evolve.

Fundamentally we can be nicer humans, and be more empathetic and respectful to each other. There is nothing to win unless we all win.

But, for women to grow and thrive and get the recognition they deserve is going to take more than a day.

To all the phenomenal women, I salute you. Every day.

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