I’ll admit to some trepidation with this post.
I’m male. White. Over 50. Privileged beyond what I know and can appropriately articulate. There’s a part of me that thinks I’m entirely unqualified to share these thoughts.
I’m married to Megan, a world shaking force of a woman. We have a daughter who recently turned 11, words fail me to describe the superpowers on her life. We have a son, he’s 9 soon and we want him to lead the way in gender equity as he grows up.
I am surrounded by brilliant women and men who are playing their part, yet there’s more to do. My friend and colleague Emma McQueen recently commented that “silence is compliance”
So I write. I write for my colleagues, mates and friends who are looking for ways to challenge, lead and shape a more gender equity world. Let’s be part of the solution.
The goal of International Women’s Day is a Gender equal world.
Brilliant right. A perfect intent.
The data tells us it is a very slow journey, the impact of the COVID pandemic has the potential to erase the gains of the last several years.
The World Economic Forum and McKinsey have two extraordinary and detailed resources available through the International Women’s Day website.
At the current rate of change it will take 99 1/2 years to achieve gender equity. WEF Report.
What can we do about that?
What I can’t do is speak FOR women.
What I can do is speak TO men.
Lads, there are three things we can do right now to move the needle and speed up the change. Lean into these with me will you?
- Shut up
- Speak up
- Step up
Shut Up – Listen to understand
We don’t know what we don’t know. And that doesn’t help. Ignorance IS NOT bliss. Nor is unconscious bias, or blind acceptance of cultural, gender and sociological privilege.
Often times I am my own worst enemy and by choosing to listen and understand we may be able to establish a common ground for the conversation that has to keep happening.
The McKinsey Report captured the impact of the pandemic and the unusual weight it placed on women like this:
“I feel like I am failing at everything. I’m failing at work. I’m failing at my duties as a mom. I’m failing in every single way, because I think what we’re being asked to do is nearly impossible. How can you continue to perform at the same level as in the office when you had no distractions, plus being asked to basically become a teacher for kids and everything else with online learning? I’m doing it all, but at the same time I’m feeling like I’m not doing any of it very well. I also worry that my performance is being judged because I’m caring for my children. If I step away from my virtual desk and I miss a call, are they going to wonder where I am? I feel that I need to always be on and ready to respond instantly to whatever comes in. And if that’s not happening, then that’s going to reflect poorly on my performance.”
WHITE WOMAN, TWO CHILDREN (AGES 7 AND 11), VP
In short, ask.
Then demonstrate you’re listening.
Hear and feel what it’s like for our female colleagues.
Speak Up – Call up equitable practices
Choosing to challenge is a good start. In my view it’s not enough. I get that the theme provokes change so don’t hear me say not to challenge. In all my writing I’ve consistently spoken up about anything that is unethical, immoral, illegal must not be tolerated. Ever.
I would add an “and”.
Ensure we work together on what a positive alternative can be. Calling UP is better than calling out.
Call up equitable practice. Ask the questions about inclusivity, representation and perspectives. Hold the line on the throwaway lines that assume women have the same access you and I do. Keep focused and diligent on true and real change.
I recently saw a group of men posting about the excitement they had about the Executive appointments they were all sharing. Megan took one look at the picture and said “What about that for a picture?” “All men”.
This was so 2019…..
The post was met with largely a positive reception with a couple of brave female souls asking about the lack of female representation. When asking about a more gender inclusive possibility one women was met with “Nominate them!” Without any sense of what exclusivity around the nomination process may have embedded in it.
Guys, and I mean guys in the most gender orientated sense. We can and must do better.
Some years ago a number of my male colleagues made the decision to choose not to be on any all male panels, or ‘manels’ as they called them. We need to do more, of course, and this is a stake in the ground that can continue to encourage the process of change and shape the conversation.
Speak up. Challenge the process. Require gender equity. Hold the line.
You can access some conversation starters provided by the International Women’s Day Website here.
Set Up – Commit to model the changes
At work right now what does an equitable workplace look like for you? Run the numbers.
Are they even close to equitable?
In one of our recent Podcasts where we interviewed Dr Karen Morley on her 2020 book “Beating Gender Bias” she talked about the power and importance of curiosity as a beginning point to the conversation about gender equity.
As a man start by being curious about what you don’t know. Be curious about what you and I assume as normal is actual inequitable. Be curious about how your female colleagues might experience something you are used to as a form of bias and exclusivity.
You’ll be surprised, even shocked. Good.
Shocked enough to change right?
What does gender equity look like for you right now? At home? At work? In life and leadership? How can you move the needle even more towards a more equitable world for women, all women.
Megan, I promise to do my best to serve you and elevate everything about you, privately and publicly.
ZaZa, you are a formidable young lady, being your Dad is a a privilege beyond words. I commit to raising you to lead yourself and others in a more gender inclusive world.
Maddox, I pledge to raise you as a man that respects and honours women as equals. That your world be the example our world needs of an all inclusive man.