Why working dads are key to diversity, inclusion and gender balance
Working dads are key to D & I and gender balance
Are working dads unintentionally blocking diversity and inclusion and gender balance in organisations and the workplace?
I read three things last week that made me reflect on the lack of progress in D & I and gender balance.
- The first came from Mark Mccartney a U.K. leadership coach specialising in supporting working dads (finally we are using that term). He posted a discussion on LinkedIn suggesting there are three reasons why working dads unintentionally block greater Diversity & Inclusion. The implication is if working dads block D & I efforts, I would extend that if that’s the case then they can also “unblock” and accelerate those initiatives.
- The second was from Basecamp CEO, Jason Fried who in a blog who said “We are not a social impact company.” He goes on “We don’t have to solve deep social problems, chime in publicly whenever the world requests our opinion on the major issues of the day, or get behind one movement or another with time or treasure. These are all important topics, but they’re not our topics at work — they’re not what we collectively do here.” Like all controversial statements, there was a back story and it seems it was also about the failure to navigate hard conversations within the company itself and its own culture, especially around race. Employees who could not buy into the new philosophy were given the option to leave with a 3-6 months severance, depending on the length of service. A large number (roughly one-third) chose that option. Organisations don’t operate in a vacuum and it’s impossible to separate them from the culture of the eco-system in which they operate on any issue. Linear thinking around a commitment to a company mission to the exclusion of everything else, is not forward-looking when the outside culture is becoming more socially aware. Once applied to one issue it will encompass all.
- The third came from Goldman Sachs analysts who complained about being required to work 100 weeks. A survey presented to the bank last month showed that all of the 13 respondents felt their working hours had “negatively impacted their relationships with friends and family.” Goldman Sachs CEO is also one of the first leaders to say he wants all employees back in the office by July.
Organisations should reflect on 3 points
1.How they measure commitment
As Mccartney said in his LinkedIn discussion, organisations are still run by those who are able to make their work their main priority. All working dads in leadership roles or positions of influence who support the philosophy of measuring commitment by the hours worked are blocking diversity, inclusion, and gender balance. For those with families, it pre-supposes there is someone at home who cooks, cleans, arranges medical appointments and play dates.
Jessica Nath, Content Writer at Jobscan, posted how in previous jobs taking it was too stressful to take personal time off so she stopped doing it. The U.S. is the no vacation nation. Americans left 768 million days of paid time off unused last year, according to research released by the U.S. Travel Association. The study found that 55 percent of Americans did not use all of their paid vacation time.
2. How they reward sacrifice
Point one is followed closely by this one. Organisations that encourage linear career progression with a focus on sacrifice to personal lives being key to career progression and fail to challenge a long-hours culture, make it difficult to build an inclusive workplace culture. The underlying message, sometimes not openly expressed, is that sacrificing life outside work is the fast track to a senior role. Organisations and even governments are catching on and supporting paternity leave, but dads are less convinced. Fathers the world over are reluctant to take paternity leave or seek flexi-time, even if they are legally entitled to do so, fearing the absence will damage their careers.
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3. How they perpetuate the culture
To quote Mccartney again, organisational cultures reflect the values and beliefs of those who run them. They are the dominant group in most organisations and create the “this is the way we do things here” conformity culture and therefore bias. They actively seek individuals who will conform to the norms of the group. Recruitment processes look for people like themselves, who will “fit” in. Basecamp will almost certainly replace the employees with new hires recruited for fit rather than added value. It is a regressive step.
Those of us who involved in the transformation of workplace cultures and organisational development must kick-start those difficult conversations around the type of culture needed to encourage greater diversity, inclusion, and gender balance. We need to focus on the role working dads play in both the success and failure of those initiatives. It takes more than box-checking. Leaders need to be consistent in their approach to consciously align and role model values that permeate across an organisation. This will empower all employees to engage and embed the philosophy to encourage transformation.
As I mentioned in a recent podcast on bias in the workplace with Sonal Bahl, Founder of Supercharge, I won’t have a problem if interviewers ask both men and women equally about their childcare arrangements in the hiring process.
It means we will know when gender balance has been achieved. It would be much harder to discriminate against all parents.
3Plus offers a portfolio of gender balance solutions which includes working with you to establish an understanding of the unwritten corporate culture.
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Dates for the Diary
September 9th - Podcast recording Talkpush - Discussion recruitment for inclusive workplaces
September 21st - ENGIE Gender bias in Performance Assessment online
October 26th - Banque de Luxembourg Préjugés sexistes dans le processus de recrutment.
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