Guys put down your footy remotes and pick up a copy of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Yes, the book does deal with gender equality but as your turn the pages you will realise this is not just a female issue.
Equality affects us all. If we are to gain work place equality it is important that we all play our part in achieving this goal.
If reading a book is too much effort, and it appears that way by the decline in book sales, then watch her TED talk – it is only 15 minutes long.
Even if I take a selfish perspective of a white middle-ish aged male with two sons I still benefit from workplace equality, here is just a couple reasons why:
· My wife works, in fact she is currently the main income earner so I win from her gaining greater workplace satisfaction and a higher wage;
· I hope when my boys grow up they will get married and their wives will be able to peruse the careers of their choice;
· While I have mostly worked in environments where there is equality amongst my peers, I feel all work places are better for an even mix amongst genders. What is now needed is a more even mix amongst senior team members.
Lean In has been very well researched and written, full of astounding facts on how the equality gap still remains, particularly amongst the higher levels of government and business. There is really been no country in the world that has solved the problem.
If we put politics aside, we only have to look at some of the attacks on our former Prime Minister Julia Gillard is see that gender bias is still alive and well. She was subjected to media analysis that male prime ministers did not have to face.
While a lot of books and people will focus on the cause of the issue, the book focused more on what we can do to help break the glass ceiling that exists in so many organisations. Here are a couple of action points that I took from the book.
Access to childcare
I think this has to be the single most important issues many Australian families face, having access to good affordable childcare. As a parent of two young boys I know the issues and hassles involved in finding childcare, let alone good childcare, in Sydney.
I see why many mothers, particularly of lower income levels, opt-out of paid employment or as the book termed it “leave employment before they leave”.
Compare the situation to our situation to here in Singapore where we have affordable home help and easily access to a variety of childcare facilities. It allows us to focus on work while at work and our families when at home.
Providing access to childcare is one of the simplest ways both employers and government can support young families.
Statistics show that us males do far less than our fair share around the house. There are many families where the wife/partner is expected to go to work and then do all the housework.
Early on in our relationship we employed a house cleaner; I think it is one of the best investments we have made in our relationship. Lets face facts – cleaning the house is not much fun and if we have limited family time the last thing we want to do is have our head down the loo.
All households should be aiming for 50/50 share of household chores. The days of he looks after the outside and she looks after the inside jobs should be long gone.
Keep the conversation alive
The biggest wrong we can do is to ignore the issue, assume that it is solved or other people will solve the issue.
As Lean In demonstrates solving the issue is a complex matter with many environmental and person biases contributing to the situation. No company or country appears to have solved the issue yet but by talking about the issues we keep them alive and make steps towards equality in the workplace.
I don’t think there is a silver bullet to the problem, but through conservation we can breakdown barrier by barrier.
Pick-up the book
So now you have heard my two cents on the matter it is time to pick-up the book and start reading. I will let you wait until the footy/cricket game has finished.
Author: +Richard Brock