Manbassadors: Male Champions of Female Issues, Equality, and Diversity
In a generation where diversity is coherent and discrimination is widely frowned upon, most women and male champions are still fighting for equality. In recent news, for the first time in history, Saudi Arabia issues its first driving licenses to women. This is the result of women and men, also known as manbassadors, fighting together for equality.
While measures are being undertaken by the government and society itself, the road to gender equality is still a long one with many improvements needed. Wage gaps, catcalling and other social injustices are just some struggles that we face to this day.
Supporting equal rights does not make you biased towards a certain gender. Supporting women is not just a “women’s issue” but a people issue. In fact, there are millions of men who champion gender equity. Here are some male figures that are also known as “ambassadors” or “allies”.
While most celebrities such as Prince Harry, Terry Crews, and all the male Avengers cast actively use their status as a platform to voice out their support for equal rights, there are also those who prefer to stay outside the limelight:
PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER, THE WOMANITY FOUNDATION
Borgstedt is the entrepreneur and philanthropist behind The Womanity Foundation. It is a UK-Swiss organization founded in 2005 to fight for women’s empowerment and education in developing countries.
Some of their initiatives include helping young women in Afghanistan to break into STEM careers through the ‘Girls Can Code’ programme; challenging the stereotypical role of women in Arab societies via a groundbreaking fiction series, and creating the first commercial women’s radio exclusively in the Middle East. Borgstedt is an investor in the Allbright Collective and is a member of Women Moving Millions.
COO, UK & IRELAND, SKY
Stylianou isn’t just Sky’s COO, he’s its main ambassador. As the executive sponsor of Sky’s Women in Leadership (WiL) programme, Stylianou is leading the company to reach its target of a 50:50 gender balance. He launched a programme which has upskilled 445 high-potential women, introduced a six-month development programme for women in home service roles, started a Women in Tech scholarship which offers three young women £25,000 funding and mentoring to develop their own tech project, and personally sponsors six women. ‘Why should men be Agents of Change? It’s maths. There are way more men in senior roles. They have the power, they have the influence, they need to lead from the front,’ he says.
CEO, BRIGHTSTAR CORP
Brightstar is the biggest name in mobile telecoms that you’ve never heard of. It’s one of the world’s largest distributors of mobile phones, acting as a middleman between networks and manufacturers. Kenya-born Patel, who joined Brightstar in 2015 from global gaming and lottery company GTECH, is an active champion of women in the telecoms sector; the last two executive appointments to the global Brightstar leadership team have both been female.
Last year, the company was named World’s Most Ethical Company by the Ethisphere Institute for investing in local communities and embracing strategies of diversity and inclusion. Patel supports the Women’s Business Council and has promoted its Men as Agents of the Change initiative.
CEO HEALTHCARE, SODEXO UK & IRELAND
Taylor’s first job was washing dishes. Now he’s the Chief Executive of Sodexo UK and Ireland’s healthcare business, heading up 7,000 employees at 100 NHS and private healthcare sites. He’s a founding member of Sodexo’s Diversity Leadership Council, which heavily contributed to Sodexo being ranked as one of the top 10 companies for diversity by DiversityInc for the last nine consecutive years.
Globally, women comprise half of Sodexo’s board of directors and 30% of the top 1,400 Sodexo managers, with a target of increasing this to 40% by 2025. Last year, Taylor was a keynote speaker at Sodexo’s annual Women Work conference and at Northern Power Women Awards in Manchester.
Just as more and more men are supporting women’s rights. There is no reason why women should also enforce the gap between each sex.
A recent Harvard study showed that traditional diversity training programs of organisations have in fact increased the gender gap in organisations as most training programs made men feel bad about themselves. This has led to awkwardness and uncertainty on how they need to behave and the easiest way out of this conundrum has been to avoid or limit their interactions with women.
There is no need to ponder on the “women vs. men” situation but instead come together to encourage equality. Working towards such a goal will not only increase productivity but greater creativity, innovation, and harmony.
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