According to the Women in the Workplace 2018 study, women remain under-represented at every level of Corporate America.
And yet, women across the globe are doing their part. Earning more degrees than men for well over a decade, negotiating pay and time-off and still — progress is stalled.
When I think about this year’s theme for International Women’s Day #balanceforbetter I am thankful that companies have begun to place a greater emphasis on the gender gap and hard conversations are beginning to be spun up around hiring more diverse talent…
But, it’s time to turn words into action.
If we want to increase the representation of women and diversity in the workforce, companies must begin placing prioritization on not only closing the gender gap with equal pay early in the pipeline but also holding leadership accountable for their employees’ growth and promotion. It’s companies recognizing that with more women in the workforce than ever before, there is a new family dynamic of two working parents.
This means flexibility is no longer just a want — it’s a NEED.
For working moms, life is an awkward balance of changing diapers and chauffeuring kids to practice while simultaneously meeting deadlines and attending phone conferences in the car. It’s doctor visits and school drop-offs. It’s helping with homework and tending to sick kiddos while negotiating with clients and designing marketing campaigns.
If we are going to #balanceforbetter, we must stop making women choose between their families and their career. We have to stop treating flexibility as if it were a dirty word. Flexibility does not mean a reduction in productivity and expected results – in fact, studies will tell you employees with access to flexibility are more productive and more engaged.
Flexibility in the workplace isn’t just an issue for women and working moms. It’s an issue that affects the well-being of our families and our businesses. Flexibility looks like caring for an ailing parent, spouse, partner, or extended family members, it’s service calls and repairs at the house, doctor appointments, medical, maternity leave, childcare, bereavement, and everything in between.
And while we are getting there, we have a long way to go — and it’s going to take all of us.
It’s time to fundamentally flip the script.
We need to change this idealization that we have a work environment that works for the lives of everyone, when in fact; it does not. Flexibility isn’t just a perk, it needs to be something that becomes ingrained across every job and every industry. We need companies that support and recognize the challenges of balancing work and personal life.
We need companies that help employees find the solutions to get there.
Because, at the end of the day, when I walk through the door it doesn’t matter what title I carry at the office, the number of accomplishments I’ve achieved or how many articles I’ve published. My children know me as “mama.” And as a working mom — that job, that role will always be the most important role I have because I am raising the future leaders of the next generation.
Through my actions, through my words — through the day-to-day.
By pushing for a #balanceforbetter I am showing my son that independence and resiliency is a good thing. I am showing him that even when the world tells you NO, it’s not a finite answer it just means — not yet. I want to show him that his possibilities are endless not because he is a male, but because regardless of gender, regardless of race, religion, or personality differences we are ALL capable.
We are ALL equal.
But it doesn’t stop there. It’s not just important to show him these things, I need him to BELIEVE them. I need him to embody them.
Change doesn’t happen overnight.
It happens when we teach our sons and our daughters to know no prejudice. It happens when we teach our children that differences make us stronger. It happens when we empower them to fight to be others’ voices when they feel that they have none. It happens when we encourage them to bring people along instead of leaving others behind.
It happens when we teach them that they are bigger than the status quo.
They are the change.
I don’t know about you, but in the future I envision; the future I hope for my children — everyone will have a seat at the table.
This story originally appeared on They Whine, So I Wine