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Why just one month for women?

/ 04:01 AM March 08, 2021

March is National Women’s Month. Only March?

Is it not funny that we treat the subject of women like a minority when we are half of the population?

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Sometimes you wonder why there needs to be a month to celebrate women rather than celebrating their successes every day. Why is there a need to dedicate one month? I am quite ambivalent about this because I know we need awareness about gender issues while being torn that the idea must have been ingrained in everyone for some time now.

But did you know that there are women, too, who do not care about discussions on diversity and inclusion? That they keep saying everything must be “on merit” and not because of compliance with some laws that require diversity (a mix of men and women in a group, board or company).

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‘Gender bashers’

I cannot believe that there are “gender bashers” or those who think men are marginalized. What we need is to read more, listen more and understand more.

Then there is the positive side. We have male champions who are secure enough in their masculinity and are not emasculated by women leading them or doing most of the work.

Who are these male champions?

Some are husbands or mates of bread winners, or strong women who lead yet are sweet partners when they come home.

Some are board members who are happy to see a woman doing all the “nitty gritty” details as president (salute to my male directors at the Philippine Coffee Board, we have been inclusive since day one and that’s 19 years ago).

Some are family directors who were born into the role as shareholder directors or trustees (salute to my male family members for listening to three women directors in the company that’s traditionally male-dominated). Some are simply enlightened males who choose to read, understand and advocate for gender diversity and inclusion (salute to my other boards where I served like Peace and Equity Foundation, Haribon, and MAP or Management Association of the Philippines, of course).

I guess you are attracted to boards and companies and even industries where gender will not be a deterrent to success, or traditionally male-dominated industries that are opening up to diversity. I never thought our coffee group would even reach three females with six males.

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Equality and equity

So there—do we need a Women’s Month? I think we still do until such time that it’s in the DNA of every male to think of equality and equity.

But as we go along, let’s also think of the wins and the progress we are making in having women on boards and women representation in public companies. Thanks to women organizations and enlightened business organizations, like the MAP—where it has never been dictated to have diversity but for the last 18 years has always included a woman on the MAP Board of Governors. I have experienced the wisdom of having a diverse group in MAP Boards and wish other organizations will soon follow suit. Many studies have shown that a diverse Board of Directors contributes to financial profitability of many US and European companies. That’s a good tip, especially now that most—if not all—companies are challenged with rising above the ashes the pandemic has wrought on us.

So maybe this March, all of us should look into our companies, check our workforce, our management and our boards. Maybe it may as well be called “National Women Awareness Month” or “National Month for Diversity and Inclusion.” To simplify though, we may as well just stick to National Women’s Month, but make sure we observe what it truly wants to achieve—that women are recognized as the other half that deserves equal if not more pay and equal if not more rights.

So for everyone else who’s still learning about diversity, get a checklist and test your company. And to those who have been enlightened, congratulations. Diversity is indeed the key to success. INQ

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or the MAP. The author is immediate past chair of the Asean Women Entrepreneurs Netwrok (Awen) and is Trustee at Philippine Women’s Economic Network (Philwen) and Women’s Business Council of the Philippines (WomenbizPH).

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