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International Men's Day: more role models for more equality

Around International Women's Day on March 8, nearly everyone is talking about equal opportunities and gender diversity. Topics to which Coca-Cola is also committed and which are targeted in Austria. But what role and relevance do men actually have when it comes to equality? On the occasion of the International Men's Day on November 19th, we talked to our partner “the female factor” about why more men should lead by example.

As one of the co-founders of the international women's network "the female factor", Mahdis Gharaei works with aspiring and talented women on a daily basis. With its own mentoring program for members, "the female factor" brings industry giants together with young talents and executives and thus relies heavily on sharing of personal experiences and also on the role model effect of their mentors. The goal of bringing similar role models to the curtain not only unites the female factor and Coca-Cola but is also one of the intentions of the International Men's Day on November 19. Mahdis Gharaei explained to us in an interview why this goal is so essential on the way to equality and why male role models are sometimes more important than women.

A role model - what is that actually?
“Role models,” explains Mahdis Gharaei, “do motivate me to improve my own behaviour, develop myself further and inspire me to implement something that I may have only dreamed of up to now.” She does not consider calling a single person a role model to be effective . “Every person has certain qualities, skills and values that I consider exemplary. In my career I have seen a number of people in influential positions who do not represent my values, but there were also some qualities in them that I of course considered to be admirable and worth striving for. "

Especially when it comes to equality, the relevance of role models is often emphasized. Do they really play such a central role?
"Role models can influence how we develop and perceive certain role models," explains Mahdis Gharaei. The fact is that - unfortunately - gender-specific stereotypes and unconscious prejudices still persist in the minds of many.  

I really believe in the concept of 'What you can see, you can be' and I think that many underestimate their own role model effect and are not aware that their behaviour and way of life can inspire others. 


And in terms of male role models? Are these as important as women?
This answer comes clear and firm: “Absolutely! If not more important! At the moment, men are still largely in decision-making positions in economic life and have immense power in so many industries when it comes to shaping companies and jobs. In my opinion, every man should stand up for equality, because it benefits all of us! ”Equality is not about discriminating against a group, but rather giving everyone in society a chance and the opportunity to participate. "The complex challenges that lie ahead of us simply require a wide variety of perspectives to solve them."

Speaking about companies: How can they contribute when it comes to setting a good example?
“Role models in companies should reflect our society and luckily it is colourful and diverse. It is important for companies to demonstrate this diversity by using a wide variety of role models and to create an inclusive organizational culture that allows employees to develop their full potential.”  

Especially for Generation Y, who will make up 75% of our working world by 2030, diversity, along with flexibility and a good leadership and feedback culture, is one of the decisive factors in choosing a company. 


Last but not least: What can I do myself - whether man or woman - to set a good example?
Here our conversation partner refers – with a little wink – to a personal experience: “I had an important insight last year when I turned 30. Namely, that I am my most important role model myself. Despite my young age, I have already held privileged positions with a lot of responsibility and therefore mostly stood out as ‘different’ or ‘something that has not existed before’ - both in terms of my age and gender, as well as my origin.” The credo of the power woman with Persian roots is therefore: "If you don't see any role models in your dream position with whom you can identify - just be the person you would have needed yourself when you were younger."

Find out more about our partnership with “the female factor” here.