As a female entrepreneur, gender equality is at the forefront of all that I am and do.
Isn’t it crazy though, that we are still talking about this in 2021? Haven’t we debunked the myth that not all men are smarter than all women by now? Clearly not, if we’re still talking about it! And we wouldn’t still be talking about it if it was not an issue.
So what can we do to encourage gender equality in the workplace?
Stop Asking Questions Like “Can Women Have It All?”
What does this even mean? And why is this a women-specific question? Who doesn’t want to have it all?
What this question does – without us noticing – is implying that men have it all. And that it’s accepted and normal. And now what we have to find out is if women can.
Whether women can or not is not even the point (I think women can have it all, by the way). The point is to stop making gender-specific assumptions. What this does, is create a workplace that places a limit on what women can do, limiting how high up women can go. This is why we have situations where single women without children are more successful than women with children. Mothers are viewed as having more important priorities at home, and therefore, cannot be relied on with more responsibilities at work. A married man with children will not face the same bias, as the expectation is that the wife and mother will take care of the children at home when they get sick.
So with all the work we have done to close the pay gap between men and women, we now have to show that we can raise children and run companies. As if men are not already doing it!
So what can we do? Refuse to be part of the problem. As a single woman, don’t go along with the pay discrimination and become part of the problem. Single or married, we are in this together!
Discourage ‘Women Only’ Positions
How many male receptionists, cleaners or secretaries do you know? Also, how many female drivers do you know?
Having positions that are reserved only for women is part of the problem. And these positions are not high ranking. They are entry-level positions. They are reserved for women because women are “more organized” than men. So we are constantly been seen as assistants. We need to help men be organized as they are so disorganized. Yet, we are not good enough or smart enough for the C-suite positions.
So what do we do? We make it clear that women do not come out of the womb organised. Being organised is an acquired skill, which men can also learn. It’s time to stop making excuses as to why women get administrative positions while men become CEOs and CFOs.
We Need More Allies
Are we going to win if we fight this alone? Probably not. We need allies.
When a country wants to go to war with another country what does it do? It calls on its allies. It convinces others why it’s good to go to war and why they should join in.
The same way a political party or NPO will sue someone and call on its allies to join in. We are stronger as a group.
Women should also do the same. We should convince men that gender equality is good for everyone, not just women. In that way, they will become our allies and join in the fight.
Are Women Part of The Problem?
Are we part of the problem? Do we actually believe in gender equality?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that all women have to want to be CEOs or business executives to believe in equality. You can be a feminist as a housewife. We fought for the right to choose not to be breadwinners.
So my question speaks more to self-limiting beliefs. Do we believe that we can be CEOs? Successful ones at that! Sometimes if you’re told you can’t do something often enough, you start to believe it.
If this is who you are, then do the work to believe in yourself. How can we convince others when we don’t even believe that we’re good enough? As a black woman, I had to do the work to believe that my skin colour is not a disadvantage. That being black is not something to be ashamed of. We need to do the work as women to convince ourselves that we are not less than our counterparts.
Gender Equality Is NOT Reverse Discrimination
Why are men intimidated by women in the workplace? Why does an inclusive workplace seem like such a radical idea?
It’s a sense of entitlement. When a man applies for an executive position and doesn’t get it, they feel better when they lose it to another man. When they lose it to a woman, there’s a “women are stealing our jobs” narrative. Who said it’s your job?
It’s not an “us” or “them” situation. Isn’t that what we tell white people? Employing women is not unfair to men, it’s just and fair to women. It’s not a zero-sum game. Saying otherwise perpetuates a narrative that we cannot co-exist. That for women to win, men have to lose. And that is very dangerous.
We Have To Practice What We Preach
As a female leader, are you aware of gender biases in your company? What are you doing about it? Are you so grateful to being given a seat at the table that you don’t want to rock the boat?
Rock the boat you must! If you don’t fight for other women, who will? We can no longer say “someone else will do it”. Who is someone?
Fighting for gender equality is everyone’s job, not just women. Feminism is not something to be embraced during women’s month. It is a fight that our mothers and our grandmothers had to fight. So we are not any different. As long as there are men out there who believe that we are “stealing their jobs”, we cannot rest!