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Six months ago, I wrote about being against gender quotas to ensure female representation in the office.
I still stand by my belief, and if there’s another thing that hasn’t changed, it’s the question of why we still have to talk about working women as though we’re in the 60s.
Granted, debates then and now about gender rights in the office are vastly different; we wouldn’t be having the conversations happening today, if not for the ones we had in the past few decades.
But for a talking point that began in the early 20th Century with what is now known as first-wave feminism, my question is, how much longer do we have to talk about this before it becomes a non-issue?
In a lecture at Stanford in April this year, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg said while “men still run the world”, women cannot wait on them, or anyone else for that matter, for change to happen.
“We can’t leave this just to managers. We can’t count on anyone else solving that problem,” she said. “But the person who is most likely to correct this for you is you. It is your seat at the table; take it.”
There are hundreds of papers and statistics produced about the gender gap. Yes, I agree more can be done to move women into higher ranking roles, and in turn, bridging the pay gap.
But is continually discussing why women are lagging behind because of an ingrained belief (by many) they are the lesser sex the way to go?
Wouldn’t you prefer we had discussions reminding everyone who identifies as male, female and everything in between, that we are each already vested to reach our fullest potential.
“My message is: Raise your hand, sit at the table, own your success,” Sandberg said.
In our upcoming August issue of Human Resources magazine, I spent time speaking with Dell’s Angela Fox, the co-chair for their diversity and inclusion council, and Tiffany See, Dell’s APJ executive director of HR. Both are passionate about pushing for gender diversity in the corporate world, more so in the male-dominated tech sector.
The pair discuss, among other things, why conversations about gender equality are still necessary. Fox addressed the issue by referencing women’s rights advocate Beth Brooke’s position on the matter:
“She said the economic view, the impact and influence women will have over the next 10 years is massive – over a billion women will be coming into the workforce, making decisions and having influence. So she views women as an emerging market,” said Fox.
“What business leader would not have China and India as top priorities from a business perspective? So why then is it that businesses don’t have women as a top priority when they represent as much buying power and as much economic impact in the next decade as India and China?”
I imagined during this interview that I might end up in a hot debate with both Fox and See on the matter, but I came away understanding why they fight to talk about women in the workforce.
Of course I believe all is fair in love, war and work, and no one should be judged on creed, gender and sexual orientation when it comes to their chosen professions, and I do think the days of gender inequality in the office are numbered.
But if we want to see faster, more tangible results, maybe we have to stop talking about it so much and start doing. Let diversity become as second nature to your job as are other things like payroll, recruitment and training.
If that happened, then there might be no need for another column like this on the topic.