Many corporates suddenly discover they are approaching 8 March and they need to ‘showcase’ their overt commitment to International Women’s Day. This then manifests in ‘song and dance’ sessions – from events to gifts to speeches. Then, they start preparing for the next i.e. International Happiness Day on 20 March, World Water Day on 29 March and the list goes on!
According to MTI CEO Hilmy Cader, such corporate practices on International Women’s Day stem from either guilt, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) or the need to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. Only a few truly appreciate and address the fundamental root causes.
“At MTI, we don’t celebrate International Women’s Day. Because we believe in the need to address the fundamental root causes, not unproductively indulge in superficial activities. Currently 70% of our team are women, in the last 10 years it has ranged between 45% and 75%. Our Country Heads for Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh are all women. This has been a consequence of following a fair and non-discriminatory process. If you do this, you don’t need to worry about quotas,” says Cader.
MTI goes on to challenge corporates to address the fundamental root causes, specifically focusing on the following:
- Do not discriminate women in their recruitment, promotions, and remuneration
- Recognise that child bearing requires work-time and work-place flexibility, facilitate that and ensure career progress is not disadvantaged as a result
- Actively discourage ‘old boys’ clubs’ and ‘macho cultures’ – that unfairly marginalise women
According to MTI, COVID-19 has drastically altered the way we work, with significant amount of knowledge work done virtually and remotely. This means the gender of the person doing it doesn’t matter as much. In lighter vein they point out that “whilst humans (with intelligence) continue to grapple with gender discrimination, Artificial Intelligence doesn’t!”