In a day and age where more women than ever are empowered and emboldened to tell their own stories and lean into the table where they belong and to demand what is theirs – it might seem odd that I’ve chosen to write my thoughts on women’s equality. What can a man like me say that hasn’t been said before by a hundred qualified women already? If you’re wondering that, well, I genuinely have no good answer for you. It could be that I have nothing new to say, that this topic has been explored so fully by qualified professionals and qualified women that the musings of a white, middle-aged, male executive are just static noise. I hope this is not that.
I have two amazing daughters, a son that I want to raise to be a better man and a brilliant wife. Our experiences remind me often what the consequences of inequality in the workplace are. I’m also a small part of evolv, a newer/younger, Dallas based consulting company with a roster of 14 women and 3 men. If I didn’t think about gender equality in the workplace deeply and often I’d be absolutely out of touch with my own reality and doing a disservice to myself and everyone around me. This is my reality – and as such, equality must be an issue that I’m able to discuss openly and explore fully, to really sink into and develop. And so – here I am. Expanding philosophically on the topic again. You could accurately say that this blog post is as much for me to get my thoughts out (not unlike a diary) as it is for anyone to read them.
I recently had a handful of experiences that drew my attention acutely toward this topic and shone a spotlight on areas we must improve as a society if we are to ever realize our full potential - and we are wasting so much unrealized potential when we overlook the qualified and capable people around us because of generally accepted imbalances in the system. We can no longer shrug our shoulders a say, “Well that’s just the way it is,” and then pride ourselves on being aware that there’s an issue we can do nothing about. That era has passed. This is a time of change, a time of action and evolution. I and WE, at evolv, want and plan to lead that change!
In my career, prior to founding evolv, I worked with a capable, hardworking, inspiring woman who was primed for a promotion and a raise in the coming months. She’d put in her time, was well-qualified, and gave her all to a company that truly valued what she brought to the team. During this time-frame she was blessed with a child and took her maternity leave. Because the company esteemed her as an employee the leave was lengthy and full – they wanted her to have as much time as she needed with her new baby and come back when she was ready. Accordingly, her role was waiting for her. She jumped back in and hit the ground running but something nagged at me. That promotion she’d been in position for, that raise? She’d been on maternity leave and so had been considered out of the cycle for those title and salary advancements. Her position might have been waiting for her, but it was as though the clock had stopped when she was on maternity leave. Time had frozen and restarted in her office while the rest of the company moved forward. I’m sure this bothered her – it must have – but she said nothing and kept right on going, working with her usual diligence and attention, even more deserving of the recognition that had leap-frogged her than she had been before her leave if that’s possible.
It set me to thinking – how many times more would this happen to her? What if she were to have more babies and missed more raise and promotion cycles? That wouldn’t be her fault, but it wouldn’t change the result. She’d still have put in the work and been wholly deserving of the career and pay advancements but because her forward trajectory would have frozen when she took her leave, she’d be passed over on a technicality again – all because she wanted to start and grow a family. That is not a choice anyone should have to make. I can’t imagine knowing I’d done everything I could to provide for my family but that actually having a family to provide for would put me at a disadvantage when it came time to receive my due recognition.
WE have to do better. We’re building a consulting firm that embodies what we believe:
- apprize your employees for the work they do, for the value they add, for their dedication
- Don’t worry about things that are not important.
- When we send someone to consult with you, we won’t be evaluating sex, creed, orientation, appearance, etc. We evaluate them solely on their ability to produce results.
Those are the questions our team asks themselves when they look at a person’s work history and that’s all we’ll ever want them to focus on. Getting the job done is what matters to us. If we can execute and perform at the level you need, we don’t care about other things – you’ve got evolv on your side. None of the other stuff that society throws at you matters.
I’ll close with this thought – I was asked what I wanted to do in my career and life, what legacy I wanted to leave, how I wanted others to think about me and evolv. After reflecting on that and thinking about this more deeply - I had to answer that it would be ever changing and growing and amorphous. One element I want to be known for, the ideal that is the fixed and static axis around which I need everything else to revolve, is the policy of inclusion first. Not just diversity but inclusion.
Inclusion will always come first. Inclusion is a policy, a philosophy, a practice that will ultimately drive diversity. Diversity is measurement of inclusion, a state of being that is brought about by the practice of inclusion. If we hire with a policy of inclusion, simply choosing those individuals and teams that are best qualified for the job, without consideration of anything else – we’ll find ourselves with a diverse team. We can measure diversity, hold ourselves accountable, and listen. Because that’s how we’ll grow.
I welcome comments and dialogue on this and any other topics.