I approach the week of International Women’s Day 2018 by preparing to speak at a number of events about equality, women’s rights and this years IWD theme, #PressForProgress. What does press for progress mean to me? It means pressing on, not waiting, being in action mode and doing everything I can, every day, to ensure that women become equal. Because we are not and at the current rate, will not be equal for another 100+ years!
I hear a lot of decent female and make leaders say “It’s awful, but what can I do” when I ask them about how they feel about gender inequality in their workplace. Some of them shrug and say, that’s just the way it is. Some say they want to do something, but don’t think they can actually make a difference. My response is that everyone can make a difference for human rights.
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
Dial Down the Blah, Blah, Blah!
For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I’m low on the blah blah blah and high on getting sh*t done about gender equality. So with #GSD in mind, here is my advice, gathered from wise women, about what we can do collectively and individually to advance women, irrespective of what rung on the leadership ladder you occupy.
All I want you (yes you) to do, is ask “Why” …. a lot! Here are some suggestions to get you started. At the very next opportunity you can ask:
- Why aren’t there more women on our board of directors?
- Why aren’t all our leadership teams gender balanced?
- Why is our HR team female dominated and why is our tech area male dominated?
- Why do we hold important events that are one-off instead of being repeated at different days & times so everyone with caring responsibilities can attend?
- Why do we book meetings at times that are not friendly to those of us with caring responsibilities? (or a life!)
- Why does my pay differ from my female/male colleague who is doing the same job?
- Why don’t we have gender balance in our graduate recruitment program?
- Why don’t we have a policy and process to manage women going on and returning from parental leave?
- Why don’t we train leaders at all levels about how to effectively manage requests from our people who want to work flexibly?
- Why don’t we allow all roles to be flexible? (yes even the Executive)
- Why do we assume all women have child caring responsibilities if they request to work flexibly?
- Why do we still view people who want to work flexibly less favourably?
- Why don’t more men work flexibly?
- Why don’t men take parental leave?
- Why don’t we have gender equality as a KPI?
I’m challenging each and every one of you to #PressForProgress by being curious, having an enquiring mind and embracing your inner 3-year-old by asking why, a lot! You never know what answer and solution might jump out, for you, for women, for your organisation.