Happy International Women’s day @ IBM

Each year IBM recognizes March 8, International Women’s Day (IWD).

This year the global IBM event on IWD will take place at March 10. At 15:00 CET a global webcast will start on the theme ‘Invisible glue : the stories that bind’. This will be combined with the publication of letters of IBM women all over the world to their younger selves containing good advice and starting from the principle ‘If I only had known then what I know now’.

Here is what Edith Jonkers, our NE/SW IOT Gender Program Manager says about it

Linking directly into this topic is a recent study of Catalyst (www.catalyst.org) about ‘Unwritten rules : What you don’t know can hurt your career.’
Some rules are explicitly stated in organizational handbooks, procedures or defined in writing by the senior leadership. But that is only one side of the story.

The study shows that organizations often function on norms and rules that are not always communicated in formal or explicit ways. These ‘unwritten rules’ can be described as workplace norms and behaviors that are necessary to succeed within an organization but that are not communicated as consistently or explicitly as for instance formalized work competencies are. Knowledge of these unwritten rules can play a big role in making or breaking careers.

I think it is safe to say that understanding and sharing the unwritten rules is a key element for ensuring an inclusive work environment. But it takes much more to succeed. We women cannot do it on our own (or we could but it would take us maybe another 50 years). We need to involve our male colleagues a lot more as they have a critical role to play (not to say at the least because they are still the majority holding the key positions).

It is time to stop treating gender diversity as a women’s thing and to start engaging men in order to work together as allies in changing organizational norms and structures as well as individual behaviors. Hmmm, easier said than done. A recent released Catalyst research ‘Engaging men in gender initiatives : what change agents need to know’ provided a few of the reasons why it is so hard to convince men to take on an active role in moving the gender agenda forward.

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