You have to love an event that begins with a video of PicoTaro singing about Gender Equal Peaceful World.
With a focus on mindset change, March 8th’s #heforshe event for International Women’s Day hosted by PWC, Unilever and Bunkyo Ward brought many different ideas together.
Below are a few of the highlights – my translations may not be word for word but the essence is correct, I believe.
Akie Abe, gave some unscheduled opening comments. Whilst Mrs. Abe is well know for her active support of her husband’s approach to Womenomics, her use of 家内 (“her indoors”?) to describe her role always rubs me up the wrong way!
Marin Minamiya shared her views on the power of a positive personal mindset and encouraged positive self talk.
I loved her single minded determination and hope that we can all find some of her strength when we find ourselves facing naysayers. For example when she said that she could not get the money for her expedition, she spent time writing to hundreds of sponsors until she was successful.
The 1st panel focused on so-called Japanese “ojisan” (middle aged men). The speakers had some refreshing views and ways to support institutional and individual mindset change. However, I came away with a sense that Yagi Yosuke’s comment about the importance of action over mindset change is the key. In the 2nd panel, a simple example of how to change perceptions gave me hope. Creating gender equality does not always require complex organizational wide changes, just simple every day actions can make a huge difference.
The final panel focused on unconscious bias. The complex audience reactions to the same photograph showed clearly how we all have blindspots and that we need humility and self-awareness to overcome them. To get your organization thinking about those blindspots, take a look at the Creating Inclusion with Appreciative Inquiry programmes (日本語）(English). Naoshi Takatsu of IMD also shared doom interesting data about transactional and transformational leadership. Women on average have stronger competencies in transformational leadership skills so organizatiions need to shift their thinking on what leadership looks like in the 21st Century.
Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever, gave the closing comments. He highlighted the economic, financial and social impreatives of gender equality. Mr. Polman shared the need to think about how to bring gender equality into your value chain. What are you doing at every level of your business to be #heforshe and bring about gender parity in the world?
How did you mark International Women’s Day this year? What will you do to reverse the slowing trend of gender parity and help Japan to rise up from the currently pitiful global ranking of 114th?