Why Creating Balance Between Men And Women Matters
The times are changing.
Harvey Weinstein is all over the news and it’s a clear sign – the equality gap is changing all over the world. With the #metoo theme, the abused are coming out of the woodwork and the conversation is turning up. Men and women are no longer staying quiet and I am glad to see this shift. Sexual abuse often goes untalked about and it often gets buried.
This topic isn’t something I cover publicly on Thriving Launch, but as you already know we’ve covered sexual trauma recovery with Wendy Maltz. You also know that I’ve spoken with over 300 individuals about their traumas, pains, and wounds around abuse. This isn’t something I talk about a lot but today it’s become ever-more-important for me to bring it up.
Even as I sit here in Medellin, Colombia – I am glad to be helping various companies navigate the workplace balance of the genders. Women are no longer staying quiet, men are no longer staying quiet – and any company who wants to thrive in the coming years will need to have employees who understand what it means to have a healthy workforce.
According to research, most women do not report sexual harassment, rape, or abuse. Sadly, that’s the world we’ve been living in. Now, as the internet has helped give voice to the voiceless, it’s time more people speak out about the inequalities.
If you watched Kamala’s TEDx talk, you know that the issue of being a woman and being ignored or seen as ‘less than’ is something she deals with quite often. It’s something we need to put an end to.
How To Change The Patterns And Create A New World
Creating change isn’t easy. It requires a conscious move toward evolving, it requires us to do what haven’t done before. Often times that’s an uncomfortable move.
Whether at work, at school, or at home – most of us will shy away from talking about abuse. In the world of trauma though, change can only occur by having healthy conversations.
Starting this dialogue is never easy. Most people would rather turn away, but if we want change in any area of life – we have to shine a light on the darkness.
To begin the transformation, you do it simply by speaking up.
How To Start The Dialogue For Healing At Work (and anywhere)
The first part of trauma recovery, healing from sexual abuse or any abuse, requires we create safety.
As a leader at work, I used to manage three homeless shelters and worked as one of three men in a mostly woman dominated environment. When I first showed up and started to manage the shelters, my presence wasn’t completely welcomed.
Some women scorned my presence. A man was now present in their shelter, at their dinners, and helping clean where they slept. As a man, I represented the abuser of many women who resided in the homes.
In order to make a change, I held regular meetings with all the women. Staff, residents, and community members. I asked questions such as, “I know my being a male may be uncomfortable. I want to help change that, please tell me what would make you feel safe when I am around.”
The women began to open up. They began to share. I listened. At first some were shy, but eventually, they all opened up.
My answers became clear – I had to care, listen, and ask questions. I had to be consistent and show I could be trusted. That took time, but over the months my presence became one of safety and healing.
Creating Policies That Help Staff And The World Feel Safer
I am a big believer in creating processes, systems, and policies. They may feel like a pain to create and our world may resist them – but I’ve found that when it comes to hard topics like sexual harassment they help staff find safety.
In my line of work, as a boss, leader, trainer, and male – I’ve found that policies help keep me and staff safe.
A few policies that every company should include are; a guide that is clearly states the policies at work around proper relationships, how to file a harassment claim, regular sexual harassment trainings, an HR Manager where complaints are filed, meetings that only include women to create a safer environment for women, and an anonymous report box at work where staff can anonymously report issues that are occurring at work.
The most important of all these is creating a safe workplace where staff feel safe to report the issue and feel safe in knowing that upper management will do whatever is necessary to create a safe workplace.
As a male business owner, I’ve come to learn that it’s easy as a man to not realize the privileges I have. I often to notice how my partner is overlooked, even mistreated in subtle ways, and how blind I can be to subversive aspects of power.
My big insight, and one I give to all men who work, live, and have any kind of relationship with women – especially professionally – is they learn to acknowledge, take care of, and give ample space for women to have a voice.
When we start with the small stuff like listening, not making comments that put women down or objectify them and help them feel as equals – we empower women and the men around us to be more considerate. If we wish to have a world where there are no more cases like that of Harvey Weinstein, then, we need to begin with ourselves.
Start by allowing women to have space to speak, share, and to be respected. If you see a women being put down – speak up and don’t tolerate it. Report it if that’s the next best case scenario. Be the leader and advocate for safety in the world and the world will be one where our co-workers, wives, daughters, bosses and everyone will be safe.