Our Contributors Weigh In
Hear from our contributors below on the state of gender equality—and let us know what you think in the comments!
Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes
As the executive sponsor for the MARC program at Hydro One, I’m becoming more aware of the impact that gender equality has on our society.
When my six-year-old daughter was given the option to pursue carpentry or drama for an after-school program, she chose carpentry—and absolutely loved it. This reinforced my desire to provide support and opportunities for her to explore her passions, regardless of whether they’re considered “traditional” for girls or women.
Jonathan RebickVice President, Provincial Lines and Forestry
Facing An Uncertain Future with Optimism
2016 was like the old adage about the weather in March—in reverse: it came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. So much progress has been made in engaging men to support gender equality in companies. The MARC initiative and Catalyst’s engaging men resources are in great demand around the world, and I've been working with Catalyst all over the world to engage men.
We face an unsettled future—and yet not uncertain. Now is a time that requires us to continue to press for greater gender equality at home and at work. I remain optimistic that this will be the year, despite all, that paid parental leave will appear on the national political agenda. Stay tuned!
SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies
Executive Director, Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities
It is clear that Sweden has been hit by a backlash regarding equality and that nothing in this world can be taken for granted. Equality must be fought for every day and on all levels, even in a country that is known to be one of the most equal in the world. In our homes, in schools, within politics and in our work places, we need to continue to talk about this and take action! And it is quite clear that, even if Sweden has achieved a high level of equality compared to many other countries, we must still examine our laws and regulations in order to move forward and achieve total equality—one hopes that is possible.
But trust me, we will keep on fighting.
Lars EngstromSenior Partner
Smart Companies Are Listening
I believe women's leadership advancement is actually reaching a tipping point. In the last 12 months, I have done over 30 corporate and private events focused on advancing women through active male engagement. In industries like pharma, finance, defense, technology, and CPG, women's voices are rising—as are supportive men, especially in senior leadership positions. Smart, progressive companies are implementing aggressive programs to attract, retain, and advance women, and, in doing so, are creating a sustainable, competitive advantage. These companies have embraced four key principles to advance women: 1) genuinely listen, 2) learn about gender dynamics, 3) lead by example, and, most importantly, 4) have the will to act.
As we cross the threshold into 2017, I am optimistic that in many progressive, growth-oriented firms, the trajectory of women's leadership advancement and the number of men (and companies) who are actively listening and participating is significantly increasing.
Jeffery Tobias Halter
Innovative Solutions Through Greater Community
2016 was an amazing year of learning, particularly with regard to gender. Our world is more connected than ever through the Internet and social media, allowing us to express our views and collaborate with like-minded people. Widespread fear and distrust of minority and disadvantaged groups was a reality check, but I’m looking forward to innovative solutions and many more adventures in the New Year.
Amitabh KumarHead of Media and Communication
Centre for Social ResearchExpanding The "Single Stories" We Believe About Others
The most important lesson I learned this year is the importance of expanding the “single stories” we believe and tell about others in our professional and personal lives. All individuals have their own perspectives, opinions, and experiences that make up the complex, beautiful human beings that they are. In order to transform workplaces, social spaces, and political systems, we need to stop simplifying one another's existences based on assumptions and stereotypes.
Tory PaezCommunity Economic Development Volunteer
Peace CorpsCaucusing in Empathy and Support
From our lofty and advantaged perches as relatively well-to-do, straight white guys, we are able to look at immigration, the Black Lives Matter movement, and LGTBQI rights with bemused, intellectual detachment, whichever side of the aisle we prefer. But the public discussion about these issues is a real, visceral experience for some of our colleagues, as I’ve learned from our leadership events this year.
Most white men feel the freedom to talk about these topics—or not—at work. What they may not realize is that members of the groups at the center of topics of contention—women, Muslims, people with disabilities, LGTBQI folks and people of color, to name a few—have a lot of concerns, even fears, that they don’t talk about at work, even with members of their own groups.
I’ve resolved to do a better job caucusing with members of my own group, not in dissent, but in support and empathy for one another.
Jim MorrisSenior Consultant
White Men As Full Diversity Partners
Talent Can Spring from Anyone
Funny thing is that when I scratched my head trying to come up with a positive gender equality lesson learned in 2016, the perfect example existed right there by my side, literally.
That example? My wife!
You see, my wife forged ahead with her dream to open a restaurant despite my reservations and those of family members. However, it’s about to become a reality.
Several times last year I sat quietly in on meetings she led with bankers, lawyers, and construction managers and was taken aback by her phenomenal project management skills, attention to detail, and business acumen, qualities I lack and that I had no idea she possessed.
So the point here, men, is that often great talent can spring up from anywhere and from anyone—including our wives and other women in our personal and professional lives. So I’m soon to assume my role in her restaurant as floor sweeper, dish washer, waiter, all of the above, or whatever else she wants me to do—and I couldn’t be happier!
Terry HowardSenior associate
Diversity WealthDiversity's Role in Major Business Transformations
My experiences in working with a range of organizations in 2016 prompted me to reflect on how I conduct my own work as a Diversity and Inclusion practitioner.
I questioned whether my approach was subject to confirmatory bias – the very danger I frequently warn organizations about. I found that indeed I have a tendency to seek out ideas and evidence to support my now well-formed positions, e.g., that there is a link between team-based diversity and innovation. This prompted me to explore different perspectives on innovation in an attempt to understand what the key drivers are, and where diversity fits into this. What I found was that there are a range of factors that contribute to innovation at the organizational level, and that team-based diversity of perspectives does not feature as prominently as I had expected. The has led me to place much more emphasis on the contribution of organizational systems and business-based decision-making processes, and to explore ways in which the diversity evidence base can be integrated with the innovation evidence base. This has resulted in a significant shift in my work to focus more on the ways in which a diversity perspective can add value to the design of organizational systems and business-based project teams (e.g., teams designed to conduct major business transformations).
Graeme RussellPhD, Consultant and Researcher We Control Our Culture
2016 was the first year in which I could commit my full schedule to the fight for gender equality—to improve the workplace for all working parents, dads included, as a crucial step toward building gender equality.
And what a year it turned out to be. This year showed me the extremes of where we stand, and set me up for a bigger, tougher battle in the year ahead.
I’m pushing harder than ever to make every event on gender equality, every corporate advancement, every state advancement, and even every possible national advancement take place.
We control our culture—the government does not. And we can keep advancing. I know this and feel this, and in that sense I am psyched, more than ever, to fight the good fight in 2017.
Josh LevsMotivational and Keynote Speaker, Author of All In