Published on in Responsible Business

Who’s the biggest role model in your life?

A celebrity? A business leader? A sports person? Whoever it is, it’s important to have someone in our lives who can inspire and motivate us. To help us visualise ourselves further down the road, and help us unlock our true potential.

But it’s hard to visualise ourselves if the people who inspire us don’t look like us. That’s why diversity is so important. It proves anyone – regardless of their gender or background – can achieve their goals, and lays the foundation for others to follow.

Case in point: let’s look at some of the comments made by members of Fujitsu’s Women’s Business Network. We asked them to talk about the people who inspire them, and their responses show just how impactful role models can be:

‘Consistently resilient, grounded and ambitious.’

‘Happy to share her wisdom with everyone, every day.’

‘Always dedicated, unwavering and trustworthy.’

‘Determined, Hopeful and Empowered.

‘Loyal, Unwavering, dedicated, trustworthy, passionate and proud.’

You can just feel the passion behind their words as they talk about their role models.

But role models don’t have to be famous or successful. We all have the ability to inspire and lead – even if we’re not leaders. But first, you have to quieten that negative voice inside that says, ‘I can’t’.

That little voice is more common than you’d think. It can be hard to think of ourselves in the same way we do the people we admire most – and I think that’s especially true for woman. That’s why programmes like #IAmRemarkable are so great. They give woman the confidence to talk about and reflect upon the strengths we all have inside and celebrate our achievements.

Having this internal confidence is a great thing. Once we all start opening up and seeing ourselves as real agents of change, we start to inspire others – who then become role models themselves inspiring the next generation.

 

A force for change

Having been nominated a Yahoo HERoes role model, I am passionate about driving change, encourage people to find the confidence in themselves and inspiring others.

I think all of us should strive to be better role models. That starts with having the confidence not to be afraid. To accept that all of us, even those we most look up to, have vulnerabilities – and knowing that’s perfectly okay.

It comes down to knowing yourself. Knowing who you are, what your purpose is, what your values are.

With that confidence comes the need to care for others. Great role models connect instantly with friends and colleagues. They’re endlessly optimistic, tirelessly empathic, and have the ability to form strong, trusting with relationships with anyone they meet.

And finally, of course, you need to be resilient. When the going gets tough, they stand up tall, take a deep breath and keep trying until they achieve success.

Of course, all of this doesn’t come at once. So, a good place to start is to examine who inspires you and why, and how you can replicate that inspiration in others. Take small steps, and don’t be afraid to start guiding others as soon as you can – it’s never too early to lead!

Circling back to that point around vulnerability – be as fearless as you can. Interact with everyone, and show off your uniqueness. You might make mistakes along the way, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Own them. Be yourself. And you’ll find your ability to admit your weakness is actually your biggest strength.

 

Reaching out

Once we start inspiring each other there, our world becomes more and more inclusive as people from different backgrounds become motivated to smash glass ceilings and push themselves into new and exciting areas.

This is a major theme of National Inclusion Week – the UK’s annual celebration that aims to promote Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) by building a more inclusive society.

The theme for this year is Each One, Reach One. And I really think that connects with what I’ve just been talking about. It isn’t just celebrities, influencers, and big businesses that have a responsibility to promote D&I. All of us – regardless of our job title or seniority – should be reaching out and ensuring everyone has an equal voice.

Part of reaching out is connecting with people, talking with people, and giving them the opportunity to be themselves. But another important part is reflecting on ourselves.

In the last few weeks, many organisation have had to have some uncomfortable conversations regarding their own D&I policies – particularly regarding race. Acknowledging your own weaknesses, and biases is never easy. But ultimately, it’s a key step in connecting with each other as individuals, and being that role model, we should all aspire to be.

The week is especially important to Fujitsu – and not just for our local teams. Although National Inclusion Week is a UK initiative, it’s a chance for the whole business to get involved. We’ll be pushing our activities out to our global teams, and will helpfully be inspiring all our networks – from our Culture and Diversity Network, SEED to our LGBT+ Network.

National Inclusion Week may last just 7 days, but it’s impact will be felt far longer. By working together, connecting with each other, and not underestimating our own ability to inspire, we’ll all be able to build a more inclusive future.

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