Published on in Responsible Business

This International Women’s Day, the theme is #EachForEqual – and for me this is about focusing on the individual actions that we can each take to create a fairer society.

This day is a reminder that these conversations and actions need to involve everyone, regardless of their gender. And yes, that includes men too.

We have a continued need to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace, to help us to create more balanced and high performing teams. This means all of us can and should take personal responsibility in driving that change and playing an active role being those champions and role models in our workplace. For men this means becoming an ally.

Why do active allies matter?

We are sometimes asked “Why do we need male allies?” and “Why do we need allies for our different diversity groups?” We know that when men are active allies in gender inclusion programmes, 96% of organisations see progress. This is compared to just three-in-ten organisations where programmes are female-only. Therefore, it’s important that we are involved so we can all work together to drive change.

Sadly, in the tech industry, gender equality is severely lacking. And we are not alone in this. Women are still underrepresented in leadership roles in every sector – and the Hampton Alexander Review showed that progress is much too slow.

This is a reality we all must acknowledge and a problem we must take responsibility for correcting.

At Fujitsu, we firmly believe that diversity and inclusion are business challenges as well as societal ones.  And one of the ways we’re tackling these is to encourage male allies across our business, and the wider industry to speak up.

By doing this we’ll start to see more diverse teams – diverse ideas in the tech space. And as business striving for innovation, diverse ideas are exactly what we want.

How can men be active allies?

Some of the most impactful actions we, as male allies, can take is to look at making incremental changes to overcome unconscious bias and the impact that this has on inclusion.

For example, I recently took part our reverse mentoring scheme called Perspectives. I was mentored by a young, Asian woman and these conversations gave me new insights on what it is like to be someone else at Fujitsu. Insights like this that help us understand what we can do differently– at a micro and macro level – to create inclusive environments around us.

Two things I have learnt from Perspectives which will help us all be allies are:

  1. Make a change. It could be something as simple as proactively bringing someone into a conversation by asking them their opinion on a topic. Or being aware if one person is dominating the conversation and take the necessary steps to encourage others to be included.
  2. Be vocal. When you see something you’re not happy with have that difficult conversation with colleagues to help them make changes. It is all of our responsibility to stand up for inclusive behaviours even if it means getting comfortable in being uncomfortable

Over to you

Many voices are needed, to ensure the workplace is equal for everyone. This International Women’s Day, I invite all my male colleagues to get involved and become an active ally.

Now I’m not saying that I get it right every time. None of us will. Being an ally is about taking steps to become more inclusive, being mindful of the impact your behaviour, practices, and language can have on others.

Change happens one person at a time. If we all start with what is in our sphere of control, what we can do differently, we will start to see positive change.

Follow Fujitsu’s activities for International Women’s Day on 8th March and play your part in #EachforEqual.

To learn more about women’s networking groups follow our Women’s Business Network on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Plus, if you’d like to find out more about our Diversity and Inclusion strategy you can find more information here.

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Paul Patterson

CEO and Head of Northern and Western Europe at Fujitsu

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