I was reflecting on the whole ‘gender debate’ in the light of Meghan Markle and all the screaming about racism and sexism and misogyny in the wake of her decision to leave the UK, and wondered how we got here?
I’ve been involved in promoting women in organisations for many years – fix the pipeline fix the problems, right?
But how many times do companies fix the problems by tokenism?
- Let’s appoint more women NEDs and the Board looks just fine.
- Or look at the charity sector’s recent appointments – almost all women – diversity targets met – tick.
- The Labour party leadership contest has 4 women and one man in the running. Is that fair?
I have coached and trained thousands of women, spoken at conferences, set up women’s networks and served on Government boards, and defended voluntary targets and ‘swinging the pendulum’, effectively giving women more opportunities to try to balance the predominance of men in the workplace at senior levels, for years.
But I am also worried that there seems to be a lot of ‘man bashing’ going on. If we are to change the shape of organisations, and society, and give more women more opportunities to succeed then we have to include men in the conversation.
We should not just be celebrating difference but including everyone.
Looking more broadly at women and choice, as a Trustee of Treesisters (a Climate Change organisation through the empowerment of women globally) and speaking to a titled lady philanthropist yesterday who is doing amazing work improving the prison system and how it deals with women, it becomes even more apparent that we do not all start out in life with equal chances and choices, many having been abused or born into poverty.
Whilst this is equally true of men, women are often only in prison because they are safer there – they cannot be tagged and sent home as the abuse may continue. There are very few who are a danger to society. There is a whole spectrum of work to be done.
Rather than talk about bias, let’s start talking more about Inclusion and how we can all be more inclusive in our daily lives. The results are amazing.