Celebrated each November, the aim of International Men’s Day is to celebrate positive male role models and the positive impact that they have on their communities.
We spoke to some of our male role models at Colt, to find out ways that they feel they’ve made an impact on their family, community and colleagues. Many of our male colleagues at Colt also advocate on behalf of women and other underrepresented groups and believe they have a role to play in this.
Keri Gilder, Chief Commercial Officer and Chair of Colt’s Inclusion & Diversity Council says, “As a company and as individuals we can all be enablers for a more equitable society and we each have a part to play in making our environment a more inclusive one. We have many talented, passionate people at Colt who champion this every day, inside and outside of work.”
Rajneesh Gupta, Director, Service Delivery, tells us why it’s important to him to be an ally for women and underrepresented groups.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Most of us have heard this quote by Mahatma Gandhi and perhaps even been inspired by it. It’s a beautiful sentiment and one that reminds us how everyone has the power to make an impact.
I always search for opportunities that align with my values and have a clear purpose. Things that get my attention relate to women and girls; their equality, non-violence, economic development and empowerment in all sectors of society. Another aspect for me is health advocacy.
When something bothers me, I do some research to understand more fully. To me, being an ally is about getting curious about what women need to feel valued, safe, and respected as equals. We need to work harder to combat our unconscious biases. When men’s voices join women’s in advocating for this in the corporate world, we amplify our collective power.
Recently, I’ve become a mentor for women talent in Colt India and have been working closely with the Network 25 team here, encouraging employees in my team to be more involved. I’ve also brought in a focus on hiring more women talent, working closely with HR and our recruitment team. We’re aiming to hire 20 women by the end of the year and are close to achieving this, which will result in a better gender balance within the overall team.
Ram Narasimhan, Director – Product and Technology, tell us how taking up marathon running has enabled him to connect with and learn about others
I started running around eight years ago. It soon turned into a serious hobby and having run a few marathons over the years, I now run 3-4 times a week.
At the risk of sounding cliched, running has taught me a lot – the value of patience, the ability to understand that capability comes in several forms, the value of mental strength, that everyone’s strengths are different but they can hit the same goals in different ways. It has been a great way for me to get to know and connect with others. For me, this links with our drive in Colt to be more inclusive, which is about learning different perspectives being richer for the experience.
I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say that they feel inspired by my runs and they have taken up a wellness activity based on that. I’m flattered by these comments and I’m glad I could get them started but it’s their own efforts that take them to the next level.
The moment we talk about being more inclusive, it automatically means inclusion of all perspectives. It’s easy to conform to stereotypes and tread on the well-worn path of always soliciting like-minded opinion. At every opportunity, I have been seeking out a way of making my team more diverse. The opportunity is there and we will all be the better for it.
Robin Farnan, VP of Service Delivery, took part in a sleep out to raise awareness about homelessness and learn about humility along the way
Three years ago, I took part in a Sleep in the Park events in aid of homelessness in Edinburgh. The Sleep in the Park events are great as a way of raising awareness.
I got involved because homelessness seemed to be on the rise and I wanted to find out more, highlight the issue and help in some small way. It was scary but I learned a lot from the experience, including humility. It made me even more aware that we have a responsibility to help others in our community. Supporting local charities is a good way to do this. I have a group of friends where I live and team up and do something for charity as often as we can.
I’ve also just stepped up to be part of Colt’s Inclusion & Diversity Council. I want to be part of the action, so to speak. To enable a better outcome for our customers, we need a range of diverse views from different learnings and people with different backgrounds and experiences.
Vivek Gaur, VP Engineering (interim), tells us about galvanising his local community to raise money for a tree planting drive near to his home in Delhi.
I’ve lived in the Delhi suburbs for the last decade, where forest officers are constantly fighting to save the Aravali Hills green cover. Air pollution is a constant threat, so I gathered like-minded people together to raise money to fund a tree plantation drive on a piece of landfill next to where we live.
We used a technique pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, that helps build dense, native forests. The approach ensures that plant growth is 10 times faster and is 30 times denser than usual. We invited local children to plant the trees to help instilling a sense of responsibility toward the environment.
Like my passion for the environment, I’m also passionate about building an inclusive environment. Inclusivity brings out the best in people. In my team, we’ve created a diversity group to drive “inclusive” behaviour on the ground. We talk about this in all our regular meetings and I encourage people to be allies and advocates of others. It means a lot to me and is fundamental to my leadership style.
Adam Warden, Inside Sales, Network Services, tells us about being a cub scout leader and seeing the organisation change over time to be more inclusive of young people from all walks of life.
Having got a lot out of the Scout Movement when I was young, I wanted to give something back. I’ve now been a cub scout leader for over 15 years. Working with 8-10 year olds can be hard but when you see them learn something new, or help them to work out a problem, it’s very rewarding.
I’ve seen big changes in the Scouts over the years. Back then, all members were expected to be Christian, and of course it was for boys only. In the time that I’ve been involved, the Scouts has been opened up to girls and the restrictions about expecting people to follow a specific religion have been removed. It means that there are now a wide range of “Promise” wordings to make sure everyone is included, so there is a Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and even Humanist/No Faith versions of the Scout promise.
This means that I can speak to a child before they are invested, and ask them which promise they would like to make, and this really helps them to feel a part of the Scout Movement. There is always pushback when there is change but why would anyone not want to create an environment which is open to everyone?
At Colt, I’ve offered my support to all of our networks and encouraged others to do so to. Network 25, Pride Matters, and YOUnited, all do great work to help everyone feel a part of Colt no matter their gender, background, religion or who they love.
Peter Veenman, VP Global Country Management, tells us about his experience as a father of seven and participant in the Israel Youth Exchange Programme.
As a father of seven, I’m keen to bring up my children in a way that they think about what they can bring to society. I also want to help give a better future to young people myself. Our home is a very open environment, literally a home open to the local community. Working with exchange programs like Israel Youth Exchange, we have shared our home many times over the years and have organised concerts and worked with schools and local charities.
At work, I’ve always been a big supporter of developing people early in their careers. I’ve had the privilege to mentor many employees in Colt during my time here, supporting them to become more visible, reach their full potential and even more into leadership positions. I’ve been happy to see people from a diverse range of background progress in their careers over the years and I am proud to say that I played a part in their growth.