As the first of nine children, it’s fair to say that having a sister within a year of me has provided 37 years of ongoing insight and experience into interacting with women. In addition, my 20 plus years as an adult in the workforce have consistently revealed a self-perpetuating patriarchal mindset that asserts men are superior to women, denying them respect and justifying unfairness towards them. That’s something my sister has never submitted to, her inherent self-esteem and confidence dismissed that kind of indoctrination. Thankfully, confident women like her have challenged this bias with their efforts and presence, reminding all of us of the need for justice and personal development to successfully achieve our collective potential. Sadly, not all men have been able to cultivate such support for equality, instead actively participating in the sabotage of their own grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces and daughters. In this article I will share three areas of insight and action that can allow for a greater collaboration between men and women in the workplace, supporting a much needed culture of inclusion, equality and diversity.
Offering consistent respect is the first area of importance, one that should be considered a basic human right and a mandatory condition for any interaction. Regardless of one’s title, gender, religious adherence, sexual preference, socioeconomic or political place, such respect allows for healthy boundaries of physical safety and genuine intellectual and emotional consideration of another’s contribution. I’ve found it quite natural to extend this same level of respect to everyone that I’ve worked with (including of course, women) and that this same level of respect was reciprocated. As a result we were able to create a work-life culture that supported both our personal and professional happiness. Collaborative ideas were validated and easily executed, sales and production goals were often exceeded and customer retention was increased, all resulting in greater revenue and more financial rewards for ourselves. I began with this area of respect because I am absolutely convinced that having it present counteracts and resolves many work related concerns.
The kind of fair and prioritized wisdom that values respect also leads to my next area, encouraging the acknowledgement of ideas. This definitely means more than just listening. Most of us would agree that women are generally more verbally communicative; one important aspect of this is that they tend to share more with those whom they feel particularly trusted and respected by. The reason this is of great importance in the workplace is because women are informed and active in many consumer activities with regularity on a scale that men are not, enabling them to control a large extent of our gross domestic product. A short visit to your local shopping center will attest to this obvious truth, while online retailers like eBay and Amazon are predominantly geared towards women. Given this, their creative input is a vital source of potential data and innovation only made useful when it is actually heard, validated and acted upon. Encouraging them to share their ideas will create benefit and a driven kind of unity when those ideas are acknowledged and incorporated into methods and production.
Our willingness to celebrate and reward collaborative efforts equally is the third area to consider. This creates a cultural shift recognizing and affirming the importance of men and women working together towards mutual goals. Up until recently the standard of inequality in the workplace ensured a competition between men and women that was rigged, offering a patronizing kind of encouragement that women still have not seen rewarded consistently in their paychecks. As we all recognize how our efforts are made meaningful, it’s time to really highlight our successes based on the first two areas above and transform those into changes that steadily reward women on an equal footing with men.
As technology advances, we are globally closer, resulting in greater competition in the marketplace. This also allows for information and dialogue about innovation, success and justice to be consistently shared publicly in a way that used to be more hidden, subverted and controlled. Online campaigns or reports can create a crippling boycott of a company with its head stuck in the sand regarding equality, whereas real-life success stories of companies that are embracing and visibly reaping the benefits of incorporating these three areas can create surges in growth for a business. In both the employment and consumer market, it’s easy to guess which company a woman would want to align herself with.
This is truly a time of the strongest being of true service, at least in regards to the marketplace. The sooner we encourage the greatest from each other the sooner we will attain untapped potential within ourselves and in the marketplace. We have to refrain from the subtle adverse mindset that a woman’s success means a man’s lack of success. In my last article, “Implicit Bias in the Workplace”, I mentioned our ability to include each other’s contribution was not a zero-sum situation. My hope is that we are all rewarded on our merit and nothing else. As men, if we are going to expect justice and fairness for our own grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, and daughters, we are going to have to be an example in our own respective positions as we practice respect, acknowledge ideas and celebrate and reward our collaborative efforts with women to realize all of our greater advancement.The battles we fight together are the ones that will define us tomorrow.