International Women's Day a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
It's crucial that we include and embrace men in our conversations about gender parity.
For one thing, men made up 83% of C-Suite positions last year. From a practical standpoint, buy-in from current leadership is a pre-requisite to make significant institutional change a reality.
But I'm writing today to encourage you to have conversations about gender parity - not just in your workplace (shoutout to #HeForShe), but in your personal life.
I'd like to share a personal story about how I first realized that men can feel disaffected by talk about experiences that are usually unique to women.
I first saw The Vagina Monologues in college. I laughed. I cried. I felt shocked by the taboo-busting stories and liberated by how open the group discussion was after the show. Several years later, I brought my boyfriend (now husband) to a performance. I thought it would be interesting to get his take on what we ladies have to endure. Can I get a hell yea, sister?
In reality, the whole thing was a pretty awkward, and not because he was uncomfortable with the content. It started from the moment we arrived at the venue. As you might imagine, he was one of few men in attendance. He went to use the restroom and found the men's room filled with women. They had commandeered both bathrooms, and were surprised and frankly pretty unhappy to find a man in their midst. Re-watching the performance through his eyes reminded me that a perspective limited to "women: good. men: bad" is not only too simplistic and plain inaccurate, but it actively pushes men out of the conversation when we should be bringing them in.
As Liane Davey recently put it in a piece about managing conflict in the Harvard Business Review, "it’s not that everyone has good intentions; it’s that the vast majority of people do."
Today my #PledgeforParity is to value women and men's contributions equally, by starting with the assumption that most men want to do the right thing and most women want to be treated fairly and equitably.