For me, International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, 2021 was an opportunity for reflection and the willing acceptance that our collective accountability for increased gender equality, equity, diversity, and inclusion needs to be better. A lot better. Way better than an annual single day of recognition will deliver.
I work with some incredible women at TMD (here is our IWD 2021 at TMD post) and have been fortunate to benefit from the guidance and mentorship of strong women throughout my career.
I took some time over the past couple of weeks to engage women in my network and have had some very frank and humbling conversations. It was an incredibly important experience that has inspired some personal growth. While I have a way to go, I’m committed to stay the course.
Thank you – you know who you are.
#ChooseToChallenge is especially relevant in 2021. The imperative to challenge the status quo and traditional convention isn’t just appropriate, it has the potential to serve as a catalyst for real change. I agree that a challenged world is a more alert world, and it comes down to individual accountabilities.
Challenge is what serves notice that what is, or has been, is no longer acceptable and should never have been in the first place. We’ve seen some countries make progress by taking legal steps that help reduce bias and ensure a greater degree of gender equality. We can certainly legislate our way through some of it, and that needs to continue to be part of the solution.
But I don’t think we really address the issue until we find a way past the fact that there’s still an acceptance of more traditional roles for men and women. I truly believe that workplace equality is tied directly to how we enable equality at home. As a result, many (men) in the workplace make assumptions about a woman’s capability and commitment.
For example, these assumptions sometimes mean that women aren’t considered for some roles, not because they aren’t perfectly qualified and capable, but because we assume they won’t be able to fully commit to their careers because they’re fulfilling a more traditional role and taking care of their families.
My friends, loved ones and colleagues have reminded me that gender equality at home doesn’t always mean an even split of duties down the middle. But at the very least, it’s a conversation and agreement about how the family will be managed so that both partners have the opportunity to declare and pursue their aspirations for career, community and self. Each party should have the opportunity to pursue these things knowing they are supported, appreciated and recognized for the effort and sacrifice that comes with it.
Personally, I didn’t have this conversation with my partner when we first started down our path toward family and careers. As a result, it wasn’t a shared path. That wasn’t fair to either of us, but I’ve realized I wasn’t forced to choose between my career and my role as a parent and a partner. My career came first, and my partner accommodated me not because I asked her to, but frankly because I really didn’t give her a choice.
As a result, she may never have achieved her ambitions for career and self. I say “may never have” because she didn’t even have the chance to really define those. I took that possibility off the table by taking for granted and assuming the traditional roles of parenting and taking care of our family were hers to manage.
I’ve shared a personal story because I think that’s where real change needs to come from – from accepting that each of us has a personal responsibility to call out gender bias and create the opportunity for equality and inclusion.
Surely, we can do better. And we must. I #ChooseToChallenge my male friends and colleagues to embrace the fact that the path to gender equality and inclusion will require change. It absolutely requires that we change the way we think, act and assume.
Real change will only happen if men call out other men and become allies and advocates for gender equality through our commitment and willingness to hold each other accountable. And we need to do it when there aren’t any women in the room. We need to do it because it’s the right thing to do.
As the leader and CEO of a professional services firm, I will ensure we create, nurture and ensure a workplace that is grounded in equality and inclusion and will hold my colleagues, peers, clients and partners to that same standard.
Article by Dave Cliche, President & CEO at TMD