Sometimes it is almost possible to hear the sound of a norm breaking, or an attitude changing direction..
Like in Minsk last week, when I – as always – got the question about how much PROFIT Swedish companies can prove by supporting the combo work-family, being Parentsmart Companies. And how the same person, after a while really understood the connection to profitability, without figures and statistics. He realized the value of more gender equal companies to attract and keep talented employees, increase innovation and creativity, and add to a change in society as a whole. He also saw the leadership skills developed among employed parents, and how to see parenthood as an asset, not a problem. At the end he wanted to initiate a parentsmart company competition among the 1200 members in the business association where he is the chairman. GREAT!
I continue keeping dialogues and lectures in Eastern countries about WHY and HOW to increase gender equality and work-life balance in companies and societies – initiating ways of continuing thoughts and actions locally. As everywhere one key is to identify and spread local role models among managers, to prove that a change is possible, and possible locally. The interest and need for new initiatives and ideas within the area is big and increasing in these countries, and many companies show curiosity in the business value connected to employer initiatives and attitude changes.
Next interesting Parentsmart trip went back to Belarus again, invited by UNFPA and the Swedish Embassy in Minsk. This time meeting private sector companies in Brest and Minsk in connection to the ”UN70 Belarus Express” train tour around the country, to celebrate UN 70 years and show different initiatives connected to the UN goals etc.
In Brest the Swedish Institute expo Life Puzzle was presented to Belarusians of all ages, at the Youth Center, and I talked to some companies and representatives from local trade unions. In Minsk we held a seminar with a range of different private sector companies and discussed the possibilities of developing attitudes and activities for supporting the combo work and family in Belarus.
Everybody – everywhere – should get the possibility to combine family and work, and not have to choose… A human right I would say.
Thank you all, and Sylvia Augustinsson at the Swedish Institute/Swedish Foreign Ministry, for giving me more fantastic opportunities to be a part of the important attitude changes and gender equality development in different countries in the area!