And why it’s a sad thing we still have to do it.
Every year, I look forward to the Women Influencers selected by The Cannata Report. I love it! The video portraits, the awards, the women, perfect. However, every time I read about a special appreciation, a special recognition for women, women of color, women of, well anything, I ask myself: Do we still need to do this? Why are we still doing this? And then, I look back at my own history in print and business in general.
It is 2021, and our society is still struggling to understand that productivity, knowledge, competence, leadership, team-spirit, you name it, are color and gender blind. Regardless of what industry you pick and what career level, it’s always the same. Not a hint of difference. And to top it off, where there is true diversity, there is a considerable amount of success for everyone involved.
What does it take for businesses to bridge this knowledge gap? To answer this question, we need to start earlier in life (because it’s not only a challenge for businesses). And yes, I will spare you a trip all the way back to kindergarten, the first couple of years at school, even high school. I would like to begin at the point where we all decide what we want to do for a living, the so-called career path we’re choosing. Not all of us have the courage to go for what we feel is calling us at that time in our life. Some are influenced by their families or by their social environments, and others may not be able to afford the education required to reach their goals.
For the sake of simplicity and this thought process, let’s hypothesize nothing’s stopping us from going for the career we’ve always been dreaming of. And by nothing, I also mean employers. HR will only look at our qualifications, not our age, our gender, or our color. And our achievements will only be measured by data points, not how nice we are to our managers. And the decision to have a family would be supported equally for everyone who wants to start a family. Would we still have to point out that today, we’re honoring the first person of characteristics XYZ to become this or that, or the most influential person in this line of business is of characteristics ZYX? No! We would just hand over the award to Mary as the best salesperson, Jimmy as the top influencer, Susan as the most outstanding team leader, and Francis for managing the best support team in the country. Because the rest simply doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in this ideal world yet. Many women still must prove, every day that they can do it. We still must juggle jobs and family; we still too often must decide between one or the other. Too often, we still can’t say, “No.” We, being the women of the workforce.
In 2021, everyone, managers and business owners alike, should honor the outstanding achievements the women on their teams keep piling up every day. So many women have to stand their ground at work and before they get to the office (virtually or physically). And when they get back home again, their project and team management continue, often on an even more intense level. In particular, I’m thinking of single moms and moms who, in addition to having a job, are managing a family, are looking after sick or aging parents, a disabled family member, or friends. (Yes, there’s also a lot of single dads out there, and, of course, a ton of loving dads, sons, brothers, friends; you, too, are doing a fantastic job).
Women, how are you doing it? How do you stay sane? I applaud you!
However, what should, could, must our industry do to welcome more of you to their teams, to keep you on their teams, to make you the next award winner? A reminder: Awards alone don’t take any burdens off a family CEO’s shoulders.
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