Dads, is the workplace ready for your daughter?
Most men today never make the connection that if we as men, as fathers of daughters, aren’t advocating for women’s advancement and workplace equity, we are betraying our daughters of a better future.
You see, most men still lead very compartmental lives. For the most part, we put on our suit or Dockers and walk out the door and head off to work – focused on the workday ahead. Sure, we may drop off the kids once in a while or coach our daughter’s soccer team, but unless a family event appears on our calendar, we rarely make a connection between family and work.
This is particularly true of men and how they work with women in the workplace. My request this Father’s Day is for more men to think about their daughters or working spouses. Not in a patronizing “pat them on the head” manner, but with the courage and strength that they would use if and when their daughter or spouse has been wronged.
Every time a man automatically assumes a female peer should take notes in a meeting or make the coffee, he sends a subtle message that women are not equal to men.
The next time a woman speaks up in a meeting and is talked over by men, I want you to picture your seventh-grade daughter being talked over by boys in school. Every time men use the word “honey” or “sweetie” or even something worse to address women at work, I want you to think about the teenage boy who is calling your daughter “hot,” (or certainly something worse). Sadly, women at work are besieged daily by a death of a thousand cuts and men aren’t even aware of it. You wouldn’t sit back and allow someone to not treat your daughter with dignity and respect. Why are you sitting back now?
It’s time for men to make the connection between women at work and the work environment our daughters will inherit. It’s time for men to make the connection between the women in their lives and the inequalities, inequities and bias in the workplace. It’s time for more men to become male champions – advocates for women.
Father of Daughter Initiative
I propose that this Father’s Day, instead of expecting a gift from your daughter or your wife, men should give THEM a gift by speaking up for women NOW and pushing for workplace change TODAY, in hopes of creating a level playing field for their daughters in the future.
With this thought in mind, I created the Father of a Daughter (FOD) Initiative, because what better gift can a Father give his daughter than a shot at a brighter future.
What is a FOD? A FOD is Father of a Daughter who realizes the responsibility he has for advocating for women in the workplace today to ensure that his daughter is able to have a gender equitable workplace in the future.
What Can Men Do?
The FOD Initiative is a roadmap for men to think about what they can do as a leader to help women around them – and take action.
- As part of the FOD movement, men will work to deepen their understanding of the business case for women in their organization and their division.
- They’ll write the business case for their department for women regarding revenue, talent, and engagement and discuss it with their team once a month.
- Find a female cultural coach, someone they can have an honest discussion with regarding the real experiences women are having in their company.
- Mentor a woman. If their position allows, they will become an advocate for a woman, and if they sit at the talent table they will become a sponsor for a woman.
- Deepen their understanding of their company’s HR practices, specifically gender equity issues in selection, compensation and performance management.
- Support and demonstrate workplace flexibility for all employees, so that women don’t feel they are being singled out for special treatment.
This is just a snapshot of my Father of a Daughter initiative.
Why Focus on Fathers?
Of course, you don’t have to be a father to participate ― women can also champion women (and their daughters) in the workplace or if you’d rather be an advocate for women this roadmap is a guide to actionable steps each of us can take on a daily basis to create an equitable future.
My focus on fathers stems from the fact that by in large, men still hold a majority of the leadership positions in corporate America ― thus setting the tone for culture, policy and workplace norms. Real and sustainable change won’t happen without engaging men at all levels of the organization.
The idea is for you to download the one-page commitment that resonates with you, print it out, note person or people you are supporting, and place it in your office where everyone can see it.
The sole act of taking a stand for supporting women’s workplace advancement will demonstrate that you are an advocate.
Additionally, if you’d like to initiative conversations to create real change for women in the workplace, I’ve created the Gender Conversation QuickStarter Newsletter. This newsletter acts as an engaging and easy way to prepare organizations and leaders to have an open and honest conversation between men and women in the workplace. Sign up to begin advancing women in the workplace – one conversation at a time.
Jeffery Tobias Halter is a corporate gender strategist, the country’s leading expert on engaging men to advance women. Jeffery is the President of YWomen, a strategic consulting company and the author of two books, including WHY WOMEN: The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men.