Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. What will you do to mark the day? Perhaps you’ll attend an event with inspirational speakers? But what are you going to DO, to see the Gender Gap Gone?
When we support women, we support individuals. Quality, low-cost childcare options are good for families, for economies. Corporate policies that are attractive to women (merit-based promotions, encouragement of collaboration, more integrated work/life flow etc) are appealing to most employees. Collectively crafting a society intolerant of violence… everyone benefits.
Eloquent advocates of large-scale change are vocal this week particularly. Governments are lobbied, businesses in the spotlight. I want to talk to you about what YOU can do.
If you’re walking along a street and the only other person on the street ahead of you trips and falls, you’ll stop to check they’re ok. But if you walk along a busy street, someone falls and 3 or 4 people ahead of you stop to help? You’re probably going to keep walking.
It might be tempting this week to believe that with all the focus on the Gender Gap, your personal attention is not required. When it comes to diversity and in particular, seeing the Gender Gap Gone, if you’re prepared to let others deal with it, you’re likely adding to the problem – certainly as it exists for yourself and those who follow you / aspire to be like you.
Remember Lieutenant General David Morison’s now iconic line,
The standard you walk past is the standard you accept
Well my question for you this week is what are you accepting in your own life and what will you do differently? Okay, so that’s two questions!
To take action you can tackle the gap for others or you can start, possibly more powerfully with yourself. For your sake and for those around you. Let me share a few tangible ideas.
Take External Action to see the Gender Gap Gone
Sponsor a young girl in poverty, to provide safety and education
Donate new or nearly new business clothes to Dress For Success
Support a women’s shelter financially
Advocate for the women around you. If their voices are drowned out in meetings, ask their opinion on the important issues.
Look to the individuals in your team. Understand what makes them tick. Engage them individually, not en-masse in a style that suits how you would like to be managed.
Take Internal Action to see the Gender Gap Gone
Here is where the real magic happens. We can make changes to policy and changes to available opportunities, but unless individual women believe they want and can have more, our progress will be limited.
You know the story of the baby elephant that was tied to a rope, held to the ground with a wooden peg? He had about a 3m diameter to move in. The baby elephant didn’t have the strength to pull the peg from the ground, so he learned that the 3m diameter was all the space he had, despite the field around him. Over time that elephant grew. He could easily have pulled the peg from the ground, but he never did. He didn’t think he could so he didn’t try.
Ladies, don’t be like the baby elephant. Know that you CAN pull that peg from the ground. When we look at senior leadership roles in business, government, sport etc there are many more men that women. But there ARE women. It CAN be done. There are tools available to help you discover where you want to go and support you if you choose to Lead Bravely.
Indeed, a number of our resources and events are free – much the same as many leadership and career specialist organisations.
Even without that support, what can you do, right now, to see the Gender Gap Gone for yourself?
If you only do ONE THING, try this:
It may feel unnatural, but CELEBRATE YOU. It will boost your confidence, it will inspire you to stretch more and maybe boost your profile or ask for a pay rise. I have seen this one little act make such a big difference literally thousands of times. (And I do mean literally, not the just-for-emphasis use of literally!)
If I’m asking you to get uncomfortable though, I’m going to do the same.
Ok, so I may quietly have an internal replay stuck on a loop with Will Farrell in Old School, running naked and alone through the streets beaming “Come on honey, we’re all doing it”
If that’s the outcome, I’m good with that too.
You might join me publicly (use the #CelebrateMe and tag @GGapGone on Twitter or @GenderGapGone on Instagram or Facebook)
You might just have a quiet word to yourself, writing a note somewhere that will be prominent just for you.
Whichever approach you take, please take a moment to #CelebrateMe
You get that I mean celebrate yourself, not me, right!!
However, when you’re contemplating whether to celebrate with me via social media, or privately, please consider this.
As long as there are few photos of women in annual reports and on reception area walls, celebrating success; as long as there are few female voices raised with messages of “I did it, my family and my values are in tact, you can do this too if you choose”… then women will feel like a minority. We’re not.
When you’re considering your actions to support International Women’s Day 2016, I urge you to be vocal.
Raise your voice in support of women. The women you admire and the woman you are. Can’t think of anything to say? Try this:
I am kind.
I am capable.
I am powerful.
I GOT THIS!!!!
You are capable.
I have huge respect for you.
I admire your work.
You GOT THIS!!!
Since I won’t ask you to do something I won’t do, here’s my post from Instagram, Facebook at Twitter moments ago:
I am fierce & I am kind.
Whatever action you take this International Women’s Day, do it for yourself, for the people we love, for our communities and the sustainability of our economies and way of life. There are benefits for everyone.
Ladies, raise your voice. Allow me and others to celebrate you too.