#ChooseToChallenge yourself: Every Day and in Every Role Regardless of Gender!

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For me personally, International Women’s Day is like a zoom that focuses on a detail of diversity: Diversity in terms of gender. Knowing that our own biographies consist of much more aspects and that we bring many other faces of diversity with us.

As for me, I have always been passionate about technology since my school days – perhaps because I come from a family of engineers? The oil crisis in the early 1980s focused my interest on the availability of energy. And about the finite nature of our resources. But also, on the topic of using energy more efficiently and intelligently. So, I graduated in mechanical engineering and have been working since then in technological fields aiming to solve these challenges.

When I look back at my own biography, I see a centrally important component. Not only my parents and my family, but also my teachers, my professors, bosses, colleagues and teams – the many valuable people I have met during my career – have been very supportive.

They have given me a sense of security and space for my own development through a relationship of trust. Also, the space to make mistakes and learn: When you experience the trust of others in your abilities, you become more courageous. A very useful skill in the face of resistance, which also has to be overcome again and again.

[Tweet “This has certainly shaped my perception of the world: and my understanding of leadership, too.”]

That’s why for International Women’s Day, I choose to challenge exclusion — to build an inclusive environment where everyone feels safe and valued to be their authentic selves. For me breaking down gender stereotypes and addressing hidden bias means that we constantly challenge ourselves and are sensitive to other people’s experiences. It also means being a role model: as an individual and as a company through our inclusive policies and our culture of respect.

Barbara Frei, EVP Europe Operations at Schneider Electric, joins the #ChooseToChallenge initiative for International Women's Day 2021.

Education, skills and the willingness to constantly develop are the basic requirements for success in one’s own field. And all of us professionals share these principles. That’s why it’s so important to create a work environment that allows everyone to contribute and expand their skills.

This applies to women, men and diverse, young or experienced, people with different talents, cultural backgrounds and lifestyles — all these differences result in more efficient teams, more creative solutions and faster developments.

And of course: that’s why we need even more women in positions at all levels! It is clear that there is an equal number of qualified women and great opportunity to leverage their perspectives, experiences and skills to create corporations of the future.

We truly need to understand the value of inclusive environments where everyone feels valued. So it’s also about recognizing your own blind spots and hidden bias: That’s why this year’s International Women’s Day motto is so fitting, #ChooseToChallenge.

If you’d like to read more about International Women’s Day at Schneider Electric, please visit the following blogs:

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