Wanted: Male Champions of Change
Many people have come to believe that gender equality is only a women’s issue, as most gender initiatives continue to emphasize only the empowerment of women and, many times, men are not invited to participate. If they are, they are often unsure how to be supportive.
However, if we want a gender-equal society, gender equality advocacies that engage only women are not enough. Men must also be involved in this advocacy.
As women continue the exhausting work of educating the world about sexual harassment and gender equality, decent and “enlightened” men need to step up and offer some meaningful support. I cannot emphasize this more: Men need to step up by actually showing up. For far too long, this movement has been led by women, and consequentially has been alienating the men, who have just as much stake in this. Men can and must stand up for what they believe in by showing up in the battles that matter.
This brings me to a very important initiative the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE), the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN) and the Makati Business Club (MBC) are leading.
Male Champions of Change Philippines. To explore ways to make this advocacy in business a more inclusive undertaking, PBCWE, PhilWEN and MBC have joined forces to introduce the Male Champions of Change (MCC), an Australian organization that works with influential leaders to redefine men’s role in taking action on gender inequality. MCC activates peer groups of influential male leaders, supports them to step up beside women, and drives the adoption of actions across the private sector and government.
On Sept. 7, 2018, the three organizations hosted a roundtable discussion among Filipino male CEOs on the issues around workplace gender equality that resonate with them and that they would be keen to advocate and speak about. True to our diversity objective, the participants represented a diverse group of CEOs, country heads and business leaders from different industries, who contributed to a rich discussion on workplace policies and initiatives that promote gender equality and increase the participation of women in the workforce.
Amanda Gorely, Australian ambassador to the Philippines, shared in her remarks that she is also keen on bringing the organization to work with male CEOs here in the Philippines. She shared that when we talk about gender equality, it doesn’t and shouldn’t mean exclusively to benefit just one gender; it takes both women and men to shape change, and create a more gender-equal world.
The discussions were very informative and set the right direction in using an untapped resource: Men are a great and necessary resource in advancing leadership opportunities for women in the workplace. From potential business success to growth for both women and men, everyone benefits when men are brought in as partners in creating a gender-inclusive workplace.
PhilWEN, PBCWE and MBC hope to establish MCC here in the Philippines and encourage more men to support and join the gender equality advocacy and recognize women as essential complements and equals, at home, at work and in society.
Moving forward. Now more than ever, men must realize that, with their power and influence, they also have the responsibility to help, support and empower others.
We, both men and women, should stand together as stewards of future generations—that we have and always will be for equality and respect for human decency, that our institutions are sacred, and that those occupying positions of power and influence should always be held at a higher standard and should exemplify the best of our ideals.
Ma. Aurora “Boots” D. Geotina-Garcia ([email protected]) is chair of the Philippine Women’s Economic Network and the cochair of the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment.
Business Matters is a project of the Makati Business Club.
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