Munazza Kasmani grew up in Pakistan in a conservative family, where girls getting access to higher education and even simplest of things such as riding a bicycle was a big thing.
She broke the stereotype with the support of her brother and husband, becoming the only woman in her family to have gone abroad for higher studies. Now, she heads L&D for developing markets at Reckitt Benckiser and makes the same family feel proud and follow in her footsteps.
Male employees have also shared how they were hired by women leaders, such as Kasmani and worked under them and got inspired by their work and actions.
Kasmani shared this experience in a video, which is part of a greater campaign, #HeDaresSheDares challenge, initiated by the UK headquartered consumer goods company, Reckitt Benckiser (RB).
RB has a very dense and populated culture and the aim of this campaign was to invite the men and women employees of RB, globally, to create a bold and visible force for inclusion.
Employees also shared their relationship with their spouses and how they both aspired to lead a successful life in the corporate world, and how they were able to create a balance without affecting each other’s dreams.
Working on the same principles as the popular ice-bucket challenge, the #HeDaresSheDares challenge became a chain of social video viral. Each employee who got featured in the video, also nominated a few others to share their experiences.
In this challenge, the women employees of the company share their personal experiences about how they were able to break stereotypes and emerge as champions in their lives. The men of the organisation share how they are contributing towards empowering women in the society and how women leaders in their organisation have inspired them.
“It also helps to create a dialogue and conversation, internally and externally, across the globe on inclusion and gender parity,” Kasmani shares with HRKatha.
Kasmani adds, “In our quest to drive gender parity, we must acknowledge both men and women who are setting a positive example around us every day by enabling the women in their lives.”
The employees are just not nominating colleagues who are part of their professional circle but colleagues who are working in different countries and regions.
Primarily, LinkedIn is being used as the only platform for the campaign. As shared by Kasmani, RB is also planning to post a video, which would be a culmination of small snippets from the posted videos by the Company’s employees on its Instagram page.
The theme of this campaign is inspired by #HeforShe – a worldwide solidarity campaign initiated by the UN in 2014.
“We kickstarted this with four RB colleagues sharing their personal stories and throwing the Dare to our global CEO, president and SVP-HR for both business units. And through them, the challenge has been further cascaded across the globe. The campaign has received a lot of attraction and employees across the RB globe are participating in this campaign — a mix of gender and level,” mentions Kasmani, who is heading this project.
This is a global initiative, and employees across levels in the organisation from different regions and countries have been posting self-videos on LinkedIn.
Many of the women employees who participated in this campaign, revealed how they were able to find success in the organisation and rose to leadership roles. Both men and women employees pledged to make their workplace a pioneer in gender diversity.
“Since the launch of our Dare programme in 2015, the focus had mainly been on women, and in this journey, we had somehow alienated men. This initiative allowed us to invite men colleagues to be the catalyst of change. Our intent was also to amplify the role of male colleagues as role models, sponsors and partners. We cannot do this alone and we need our male colleagues to create a bigger visible impact around inclusion and gender diversity.”
One interesting story that was shared by a woman manager is about how she helped one of her male team members, who recently became a father, to manage work–life balance.
Similarly, a male employee also shared a story when he was newly appointed as manager and how he helped one of his women team members to chart out a comfortable schedule for herself, so that she could balance her family and work.
He shared that it gave him great results and the concerned woman employee emerged to be the most engaged and motivated person, which reflected in her performance as well.
Employees are also interacting and engaging with one another through comments and videos, and have felt inspired by each other.
The campaign is gaining in popularity with each passing day, with the video that Kasmani posted getting over 10,000 views in less than a day. “Our 200 Dare ambassadors are also championing this campaign in their countries and ensuring we have the right level of engagement and support,” says Kasmani.
“This initiative has given us the opportunity to know our employees as they share their personal stories with respect to how they have supported people around them in terms of women empowerment and breaking stereotypes. It has created a lot of excitement as employees get to know the other side of their leaders, otherwise we just talk about work all the time.”
The campaign is part of the company’s Global DARE (develop, attract, retain and engage) – a global strategic imperative focused on gender diversity. Through this, the organisation wanted to engage men in the conversation.
“Since the launch of our Dare programme in 2015, the focus had mainly been on women, and in this journey, we had somehow alienated men. This initiative allowed us to invite men colleagues to be the catalyst of change. Our intent was also to amplify the role of male colleagues as role models, sponsors and partners. We cannot do this alone and we need our male colleagues to create a bigger visible impact around inclusion and gender diversity,” shares Kasmani.
The initiative was undertaken to celebrate gender diversity at the workplace. RB used this campaign as an opportunity to showcase its organisational culture and how serious it is about gender diversity and inclusion. It also gave an opportunity to the people to know the other side of each other sharing their personal story. “This initiative has given us the opportunity to know our employees as they share their personal stories with respect to how they have supported people around them in terms of women empowerment and breaking stereotypes. It has created a lot of excitement as employees get to know the other side of their leaders, otherwise we just talk about work all the time,” shares Mahima Kakar, regional HR director-South Asia, Reckitt Benckiser hygiene and home products.
It was an incredible effort that saw employees from all regions and countries uniting to participate in the campaign in great numbers. What they share is more powerful than what divides them.