Women, Today

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Barbara Hodge


International Women’s Day

It's a bit like Mother’s Day – do we REALLY need a day to be reminded that “women” denotes something? That you are a “mother” worthy of a Hallmark card? Or a “woman” worthy of being taken seriously?

Well, yes. Personally I cannot say I feel I've suffered much discrimination but a quick look around the world reminds me that millions don't feel the same. There's no point being coy about it, there are plenty of moments in which the women amongst us are reminded that we are, well, separate.

We’ve come a long way since the olden days, of course. And I don't mean those patronizing Virginia Slim ads for those of us who can remember. I've volunteered at my children's school and I can tell you there is no difference in confidence and "can-do" between girls and boys in the classroom. But, it's still shocking that for the exact same job there could be a difference in pay and promotion. So those are the challenges we are all collectively working on.

What this day brings to mind is the extraordinary ability of many women around us. Starting with mothers, teachers, friends, colleagues … the impact of women in our lives is huge. There is something else though. The women's day concept is not about proving women are like men, because we’re not. To me, it's about celebrating what we are like and not hiding it. Because what makes us unique is who we are. That's why we succeed. Not because we are copying a male clone. So let's celebrate the diversity around us – today, and every day.

I have come across one "woman" this year who inspires me no end, and gives me lots of hope. Actually, she's not a woman, and she doesn't wear a suit. She is a young 11-year-old girl in Lagos, Nigeria whom I follow on Instagram and who is courageously, and with conviction, spearheading what she calls "eco-kids" in Kenya. Her voice is amazing. Her spirit is amazing. She believes she can do anything. And I believe she can, too.

See for yourself: Meet Misimi Isimi, passionate child environmentalist and advocate #ecokidsgreenclub

I'm about to drive to Orlando for our annual Shared Services and Outsourcing Week, an event I've attended for many years. In checking the speakers’ roster last week I was struck by one thing in particular: how many women are now leading shared services operations, and how many I have had the pleasure of knowing over the course of nearly 2 decades on the job. There are too many to mention, but I would like to use this as an excuse to shout out to just 4 of them.

Deborah Kops @herself – because intelligence + grace + manners + a great memory + decency is what it is all about!

Suzanne Leopoldi-Nichols @UPS – because I have watched her build up centers, leave them in good hands and move on to build up a new one, a few times now – and am in awe!

Cindy Gallagher @LibertySource – because of her grace, generosity of spirit, and positive approach to life and work!

Karla Younger @Coca-Cola – because she welcomes us in, year after year, and generously shares her time and experience with anyone who wants to learn!

And I could not NOT mention the wonderful people (most happen to be women!) that I work with: Naomi, Rochelle, Syaz, Esther, Heather, Geena, Maria Carmen, Hannah, Sophie, Emma, Susy, Jamie, Vanessa, Chanice, Yasmine, Elisa...and anyone I've forgotten. I love the diversity in culture, nationality and ages, and the chance to interact with all of you.

Thank you.

And to the wonderful men in our ecosystem: we'll have to wait for International Men's Day to shout out to you!