Category: Blogger's Corner, Women, equality, Infrastructure, comfort, company, initiative, association, feminism
Feminism is a dirty word for some in my working life, yet others are out in front championing it to the masses. Its polarisation is largely among women themselves. Let alone the polarisation from men who may in fact comfortably associate themselves with the definition of a feminist. Which is purely advocacy of women’s rights to the point at which we achieve equality of the sexes.
The challenge for feminism is, as a label, it has different emotive frames of reference that are wildly contradictory or challenging. You have your sixties bra burning stigmatises, contradicted with Germaine Greer’s take in the seventies in the widely published ‘The Female Eunuch’ predicated on women in submissive roles to males and the loss of our sexuality to conformist, confined and demeaning stereotypes. Through to the literal interpretation of those stereotypes saying they are advocates of feminist empowerment by being outwardly comfortable to publicly parade their physical assets as a statement of feminist prowess, like Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé and a long list of others in more recent times. Lucky we have Lena Dunham showing us some normality on the modern feminist agenda.
In the work place though, I am mostly concerned that we have not achieved equality of the sexes at all levels. And while some companies are outwardly driving this and some industries, such as media advertising, have great champions such as Sheryl Sandberg and Lean in at Facebook or Lindsay Patterson with ‘Walk the Talk at Maxus’, or our very own Sue Unerman with ‘The Glass Wall’ at MediaCom where I am lucky enough to work. There is still a resistance to making feminism the focal point of an equality conversation.
There are many equality issues beyond women’s rights that need to be addressed. The feminism agenda, therefore, is not in spite of those things, but should be as well as. The issue some corporations face is they are choosing between which initiative takes the limited resources available to champion it as front and centre. This is the wrong approach and a very top down model. Instead we should be looking at the infrastructure required to support all pertinent equality matters and empower those who feel associated with a cause to self-actualise the answer.
Furthermore, Feminism is a 100% inclusive initiative. As all people have a gender association, and therefore all people can directly relate to the need and relevance of equality at the gender level. While diversity in areas of race, religion, class and educational backgrounds is by design addressing niche pockets of communities and their fair representation in corporations.
This is where diversity hits political correctness between inclusion and equality as different strands and, therefore, debate erupts as to whether you asking the right questions if you focus on gender alone. The anti-feminists, or those uncomfortable with the need to champion female only initiatives in the wake of wider diversity opportunities, miss the point that diversity does mean addressing many flavours of the product and gender is the best place to start.
Here though is why this is being held back. If you associate with a cause like feminism it does not mean you agree with all of the ways feminism could be empowered. A spokesperson for feminism may do something that discredits their position of authority on the matter, despite 95% of the time doing the right thing it’s that 5% that is the gossip that festers. Some are offended that women’s only events are held to drive the message of female equality. Where are the men if we are being equal? Some don’t like the way the feminist brand is being used, notably the common rhetoric on the popular #girlslounge at conferences was why we are using the word girl instead of woman and why is a typically pink brand kit in use. Instead of the focus on the fact something is being done, there is a seemingly guilty pleasure in focusing on the nuances of the message delivery rather than the message itself. These people and events and spaces are putting gender on the agenda.
To achieve the feminist objective of equality, on salary, on boards, on progression and opportunities, on the home front as much as on the work front we need to get over these false barriers. It’s actually ok to have female only events, it’s ok to use pink and it’s certainly ok to not be a perfect feminist. It’s even ok to have the spokesperson for Feminism be a man, with leading world feminists such as Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau championing the point. What is not ok is to not take action, to collectively be ok with not being aligned on the route to achieve equality on gender matters if we are all in fact working to the same singular objective.
The groundswell exists for change. What disintermediates action though, is trying to align people to a common brand or party line of what that change will be and what is the right strategy to achieve an end goal when the subject matter is orientated to people’s direct experiences of the cause. I’m lucky enough to work in an organisation that cares about a feminist agenda. As females though, we are not all aligned to the same brand of feminism, but we are aligned that equality is our basic right.
Feminism is a collective place to start the diversity plan, and we should be proud to own the trademark.
VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email [email protected] for more information.
We are also officially recommended by Disability Confident as a step on achieving Employer status, please click here for more information.