How do we bring men on the journey towards gender balance? I’ve long been pondering this question… and I’ve long observed that the only progress more glacial than the advancement of women into leadership roles is the journey of men towards enlightenment. However I’ve observed four things over the past fortnight that give me some hope that perhaps we’re right on the cusp of some significant change:
- High profile men are beginning to talk about women in leadership as a key business issue. I wrote earlier in the week about the business letter launched by the Male Champions of Change. I’ve never seen anything like this in my global research and when you consider who the authors are and all the important priorities that must come across their desks, it’s a very promising sign.
- Men are beginning to acknowledge this is a brave new world for them. On Wednesday I attended the launch of the new AIM Gender Diversity in Management Greenpaper (which I’ll write more about later) and one of the speakers was Serge Sardo, CEO of AHRI. Serge shared his vulnerability in this space: he’s not an expert in gender balance and he’s learning on his feet. In fact he was raised in the southern Mediterranean culture and admitted (as a son) that “his mother peeled his oranges and poured his drinks”. In other words he, like many of his contemporaries, are first generation gender equals and his personal frame of reference is having to completely flip in order to meet his own expectation of equal opportunities and entitlements for both his son and his daughter throughout their lifetime.
- Even boys are beginning to call for change. You might have heard about the work High Resolves is doing in its Global Citizenship Program with school students. One of the projects produced last year by students at Sydney Boys High is this Gender Equality Project – in which a group of teenage boys acknowledge the injustice of gender inequality. It’s certainly a promising sign for the future of gender balanced leadership…
- Men are making choices that would never have been contemplated by their fathers. This morning I decided that Master E and I would both have a late start, so before Daycare we took an impromptu early morning excursion to the Zoo. And it’s sights like this – two dads with their kids doing exactly the same thing – that really left me thinking, the times they are a changing.
One thing I know for sure is that my father – and my husband’s father – would never, ever have done this!
So for sure, the change is slow… but it’s change nonetheless…
Your thoughts? Are we seeing enough social shift? Do we need to do more? Or is there enough change afoot to support gender balance in business and leadership?