“What Would Your Daughter Think About Working Here?”

I was originally going to title this posting, “Personal Engagement: Don’t Leave Home Without It!” But the reflective pause that was caused by this question from Alison Maitland’s Workplace Unconscious Biases was so powerful, that I just had to borrow it! A good way to start a conversation about whether a corporate culture is inclusive is to ask, “What would your daughter think about working here?”

Alison further reports, “…I interviewed several prominent businessmen – along with their daughters – who have spoken out on the importance of women in leadership. These men talked powerfully about the influence their female offspring had on their views about women, work, and the importance of balance in life.”

Pausing to reflect on a personal level regarding complicated social issues (like gender equity) is just plain smart. It is also a smart business practice, especially when the knowledge gained strengthens a leader’s personal engagement of these issues in the workplace.

So here I go… pausing.

I have a big gig coming up. I’m going in to my three year old granddaughter’s pre-school class as part of their week long examination of “all things aural” to play songs on my saxophone, flute and clarinet. It’s something I already do with my granddaughter – I have her name songs, and then she gets to pick which instrument I fumble around on to play the song. My greatest fear regarding this big gig? Squeaking too much on the clarinet!

Thinking about my granddaughter’s future naturally leads me to continue my examination of all things gender-related. It’s pretty personal. I care about her future happiness and success. The truth is that gender bias is all over the place! I referenced how this impacts women’s advancement and the loss of skilled talent to the workforce in an earlier blog. As for my three year old granddaughter? We have the hardest time finding gender-neutral clothes for her! Why do we try? Because we feel a need to push back against what she faces as a girl growing up in a bias-riddled mainstream culture, which throws millions of dollars at defining “the cool kids” and the “thin and beautiful people.”

This all brings up a lot of feelings as you can tell. That’s good for me as a white male. It helps to shift my paradigm regarding a life experience that is not my own. It helps me personalize the work. It helps me rethink how spaces (workplace and otherwise) can be reconfigured to be more inclusive, and therefore more productive, creative, and innovative.

Is this all part of a  “new manliness” being embraced? Everyone who cares about my granddaughter’s future hopes so.

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