Men, Women Need You Too
3rd March, 2021. King’s Cross. A crisp afternoon with white/grey overcast skies distinctive to London in early spring. I was running back to the office from a quick lunch grab, having one of those days where I had to remind myself to breathe. The bulging to-do list was overwhelming. My head had been spinning from client work, new business proposals, organising meetings, managing the team, following up with leads, interviewing new talent, and of course also thinking about the unrecognised household labour (estimated by the UK government to be worth at least $10.8 trillion to the economy). But in the week leading up to International Women’s Day, this sense of overwhelm was even higher than usual.
On top of my already hectic schedule (and busy mind), I had been invited to speak on various panels; produce more content to support the cause, and; I was going to be moderating Bloom’s annual panel event.
Whilst all of this IWD activity is great - and a lot of it self-inflicted, let’s be honest - it was in this stressful moment running across the street that the realisation hit me:
Why are we, as women, the victims of gender inequality, also burdened with the fight to achieve parity?
We often think of gender equality as a women's issue, but it's really a social imperative. After all, advancing women's rights benefits everyone. When women are empowered, families and communities thrive.
That's why male allyship is so important. It's not about taking sides; it's about working together to create a fairer society where we can all advance, together.
In 2019, an S&P report revealed there were more top CEOs called John than there were female CEOs, full stop. And today, things are no better - with female leaders still in the measly single digits.
So, surely logic dictates that if the (vast) majority of seats around the boardroom table are still taken up by the guys, we should get them on our side... ?
It's time for the fifth wave of feminism to take hold in our post-#MeToo, post-pandemic era, where - for the first time - we truly spotlight the men.
The male teenagers who think feminism is a dirty word. The timid guys who are unsure about what to say or do without putting a foot wrong. The sad incels who direct their festered frustration towards women. The energetic entrepreneurs who are eagerly building their tech teams and struggling to find female developers. All the CEOs named John. The fantastic businessmen, male managers and mentors. I, for one, wouldn't be here today without you.
In order for women to be stronger, we need more men to stand up and be allies. We need more men in positions of power championing gender equality. We need more men speaking out against sexism and gender-based violence. We need you to amplify our voices and speak up when we're not in the room.
As much as we empower women, let's allow men to be vulnerable. In order for women to be strong, we must allow men to be weak. We must challenge traditional gender norms that tell us men have to be tough and stoic all the time, because this toxic masculinity is real and damaging to all of us.
Look, this is a very complex, sensitive, and nuanced subject matter - that's certainly not going to be put to rights in a blog post. But each action counts, and taking a refreshing stance on a charged topic is what we need. Where somehow the pendulum has swung too far in one direction "feminism has gone too far," according to male Gen-Zs today) and yet simultaneously we've slid back in time to a wider gender gap. (The World Economic Forum estimates it will take a whopping 136 years to achieve gender parity).
Let's make gender equality a priority for everyone - not just women. Because when we do, we all win.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Named in the UK’s Top 20 Most Influential Female Founders by Startups Magazine, Stephanie Melodia is a self-made entrepreneur, Founder & CEO of award-winning agency Bloom, public speaker and podcast host. As a fierce feminist and advoate for gender equality, Stephanie believes male allyship is central to achieving gender equality today. Inspired by her first mentor, Simon Baker, she understands that young & ambitious women need the guidance of senior business leaders - most of whom still happen to be men. Stephanie lives in London with her partner, and sometimes visits her family in the Canaries.