Gender equality. Oh boy, it sure gets people going. Have women already made enough progress? Is it enough that women hold 2% of board and CEO positions, or should we keep pushing forward until we get to 50%? And why are we only focusing on women, shouldn’t we focus on all types of diversity while we’re at it?
My last post went viral on LinkedIn. I always find your comments fascinating. Some of them are brilliant, some are outrageous, and others are simply factually incorrect.
Many male readers who responded were sympathetic. Thank you for your words of wisdom. I certainly prefer sympathy to the outright hostile and demeaning reactions of men telling us women to stop throwing a big pity party because we have come so far already.
Other men (often those who have daughters) acknowledged that it is a tough business world and they support progress and equality. One of my favorite comments was from a man who said he was just about to critique my article until he read the comments of a few other men. That’s when he realized he was lucky to be employed in a place where intolerance of any kind is unacceptable.
The feedback I received for that article aligns with what I see in my speaking and training sessions. For the most part, men are very supportive of The Women’s Code because they get it; they understand we need a code and they want us to be happy. Because if we are—they are. (FYI, this is the reason I titled my book Happy Woman Happy World.)
I expected men to leave the feedback they did. But what I found most astounding were some of the comments made by women. Let me explain.
There are women who (very much like me) have figured out how to function and advance in business. We can be unsympathetic to other women’s struggles because we can think that since we’ve already made it, it must be possible. Advice from already successful women tends to be, “Buckle up, girlfriend, and push harder.” This is the concept that Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” illustrates so well.
There is another group of women who are more community-focused. They wholeheartedly and sincerely want to discuss equality because they are struggling themselves to find a way to balance work and home life, and they know we need more help to figure this all out. These women often add many supportive thoughts and ideas and join the call to action: Let’s do this together!
And then there are the denialists. I am STILL shaking my head wondering what these women could be thinking. They are in complete denial of the inequality we find in workplaces all over the world, even though the data paints a clear picture. (If you don’t know the numbers, please download my insights report: How Acting Like a Girl is Good for Business: 7 Profit Secrets of Gender-Diverse Corporations.) Sometimes they tell me they are clueless as to where the issue with equality might be and they some even go so far to say they have never seen the other – unsupportive side of women.
Look, it’s really simple. We, as a society, have issues with gender equality. (And yes, with diversity as well, but that is not my area of focus.) Refusing to acknowledge the facts or denying that they exist is not helping yourself or other women.
We aren’t even close to having a clear understanding of what equality means. In an ideal world, we would focus on the person, not gender or color. But real life isn’t so. Those who are perceived as being weak get bullied and picked on. Don’t be fooled, survival of the fittest is alive and well.
I will repeat it again for those who still don’t get it…
We need to help women find balance between work and home life because women are buckling under the pressures. As child bearers and in charge of 70-80% of our home lives we need better support.
Sure, not all women have the desire or skill set get to C-Level, just like many men don’t want to or can’t. What we DO want is to treat each candidate equally and ESPECIALLY consider if she, in addition to her contributions in the workplace, contributes to society as a mother. For those who elected not be mothers, please be assured this is not a kick under the table against you. Working mothers simply need that extra helping of support to manage both sides.
This is the very first step as I see it and this is the focus of the programs and trainings I provide. If you want to get to C-Level, it takes a lot of determination, but women shouldn’t be losing in a losing position before we even get a chance to try.
Beate Chelette is a respected speaker, career coach, consummate entrepreneur, Author of Happy Woman Happy World, and founder of The Women’s Code, a unique guide to leadership, and personal and career success that offers a new code of conduct for today’s business, private and digital world. Determined to build a community of women helping each other, after selling one of her companies, BeateWorks, to Bill Gates for millions of dollars, Beate created The Women’s Code to share with women everywhere her strategies for success and leadership. Through her corporate initiative “Why Acting Like a Girl Is Good For Business” she helps companies with gender diversification training, and to develop and retain women.