Warren Buffet’s article in Fortune could not be more spot on about why women and men should both care about gender equality in business.
No manager operates his or her plants at 80% efficiency when steps could be taken that would increase output. And no CEO wants male employees to be underutilized when improved training or working conditions would boost productivity. So take it one step further: If obvious benefits flow from helping the male component of the workforce achieve its potential, why in the world wouldn’t you want to include its counterpart?
Fellow males, get onboard. The closer that America comes to fully employing the talents of all its citizens, the greater its output of goods and services will be. We’ve seen what can be accomplished when we use 50% of our human capacity. If you visualize what 100% can do, you’ll join me as an unbridled optimist about America’s future.
Add to this the evidence that women in leadership and on boards increase profitability and gender equality is clearly a no-brainer.
So why on earth do we still have such a wide gender gap in the workforce, not only in pay but in numbers of women in leadership, in politics, in male-dominated fields, such as STEM?
Part of this is the time it takes for systems to change, even when the majority is on board with making the change. But an even larger part is that these systems don’t exist in a vacuum. They are part of a larger culture in which women are still objectified and considered less than.
Women are still blamed for being raped. Politicians continue to assault women’s rights to their own bodies and even to their own right to live. Sexism and misogyny are so ingrained in our patriarchal culture that even women raised to believe in their own equality and worth can’t escape the self-doubt that stems from an endless barrage of cultural messages telling them otherwise.
So even when we get our own businesses shipshape, operating at 100%, those businesses still float in the larger sea of our culture, where the waters are rough and women are still too often afraid to make waves.
We need to fight for and implement practices that equalize the workplace, especially in our own businesses, but let’s not kid ourselves that our work stops there. We need to fight for equality in politics, in our communities, in the very language we use when we talk about women, about ourselves.
We need nothing short of a sea change.
In what ways do you act in your life and work to change our culture for women?