“For my daughter.”
“For my young female future leaders.”
“For my husband.”
“For society’s tomorrow.”
The room resounded with different personal reasons as we debated, why? Why were we setting up a gender equality network? Why did this advertising conglomerate need to embrace this year’s hot topic? Why were we each personally invested in launching this initiative, ONE, our employee network to champion gender equality across our business and beyond?
Here’s my why.
I’m a mother, business founder, agency leader, manager, wife, daughter, friend, runner, home renovator, bedroom tidier, and more. I’m passionate, energetic and very goal driven.
I fastidiously maintain a life blend that keeps me effective, healthy and happy. My life roles, my work culture, this era, my business leaders and my family are what make my blend today possible. I feel blessed, and super aware I’m in a minority — in a positive, uniquely fantastic employer enabled bubble.
This is a very new and welcome bubble. I’ve suffered stress, immune malfunction and years of failed resolutions in pursuit of ‘finding my balance’. I’ve been too unwell to work due to chronic stress and slept endlessly in recovery. I’ve lost my hair. I’ve run my business, nursing baby twins all night long, yet still groggily made dawn deadlines. I’ve suffered agonising heart-ache leaving my children with temporary, unfamiliar childminders in honour of work commitments. I’ve compromised my leadership style to fit in. I’ve made multiple sacrifices. My family have too. I’ve cried and felt out of control.
No more. Having recently turned 40, sold my company, moved home and schools, established different shared responsibilities with my husband and changed businesses, I’ve finally achieved a blend that works for me. My work and corporate culture now reflect my values and facilitate my personal priorities. I haven’t been sick in over two years. I am happy. My four children are happy and they have me here when they need me. My husband is happy.
Whilst I have finally found my balance, I have had to reshape some societal norms to make it work for me, on my terms and my family’s terms.
My husband and I now both work flexibly, but as a man he’s still a rarity. He’s had to be a trail blazer in his organisation initiating pockets of ‘essential’ working from home. He’s had to bury private emasculation as our roles at home have gently shifted — he now leads laundry, cooking and does a few more school runs than me.
I conscientiously embrace being a role model for my daughter, showing her that life’s a choice and you direct it, not your gender. She must never waver in honouring her personal priorities.
Equally, I want my sons to know they can stay at home to raise their children or choose ‘nurturing’ careers like teaching or nursing in pursuit of passions never acquiescing to typecasts.
I celebrate what is now my workplace cultural norm and am dedicated to creating a future where this is every sector’s and everyone’s norm (and right). Business cultures like ours which herald balance through authenticity, agility, diversity and a focus on outcomes not inputs. Fundamentally, I want to see health and happiness metrics valued on a par with commercial results. Success with people not just pound signs.
So my big fat why, my motivation for being a founding member of my corporate gender equality network is because I want to enable our children, and future talent in our industry, to achieve their professional ambitions wholly in synergy with their family, health and wellbeing goals. No compromising. Better gender equality is pivotal to that, for all of us.
I’d love to hear about your experience at work of gender equality. Please share in the comments or message me privately for a confidential conversation.