On 19th November, we celebrate International Men’s Day 2020 and draw attention to the wellbeing of men and boys around the globe. You would of course be forgiven, almost a year to the day since the first case of Covid-19 was identified, for asking yourself what there is to celebrate. After all what a year it has been. Much of the world remains in some form of lockdown, hundreds of thousands of new infections are detected every day, and the global death toll is heading towards 1.4m. But in the midst of the pandemic, celebrate we must. We must look for positives upon which to focus; moments of light in the darkness.
As I sit at my desk at home for what seems like the hundredth month and prepare for a daily catch up with my global teams, I note a standing agenda point at the top of my notes. It simply asks “Is everyone OK?”. This isn’t a new question for me, but it has now taken on a whole new relevance and importance thanks to the pandemic. It is no longer just a platitude, a throw away rhetorical question but instead it has become perhaps the most important question for my team. Each of us has responded to the pandemic differently and each of us has struggled to a greater or lesser degree to adapt. For those who have struggled more, it’s important to know you are not alone. Many of us have had days, often longer, of anxiety and uncertainty. Many of us have struggled to find the motivation to move to the kitchen table to start our working day. Many of us have found that the blurring of work and home has led to more of a work / life imbalance. But recognising that we are struggling, talking about it and being open about it becomes even more critical. And as a manager, it becomes even more important for me to check-in with my teams on a regular basis, to ask “Is everyone OK?” and to be prepared to act on whatever the response might be.
No one predicted what would happen in 2020 and most of us will be glad to see the back of it in a few short weeks. But during this unprecedented year, when I’m looking for those moments of light, I am reassured to see mental health and wellbeing sitting atop the agenda, and being spoken about so regularly and so openly across our organisation. BNY Mellon continue to create a culture where everyone, men included, can feel empowered and able to speak freely about the challenges they are facing. So on International Men’s Day 2020, make a point of reaching out to a brother, a father, a husband, a friend or even a colleague of any gender, and ask them “Are you OK?”. You might make a huge difference to their day.