Why is gender equality important to you / your company?
I believe that gender equality is the most important civil rights struggle of the 21st century. Presently women shoulder most of the world’s work – both paid and unpaid. They also are subject to the most violence, poverty and discrimination and have very little power both formally and informally on a global level.
This issue is very important to me because I believe the planet can no longer support this imbalance of power between the genders. Our environment, our economy, our supply of food and water, the animals, the earth herself – all are suffering mightily because too much value has been ascribed to a false, unsustainable male ideology: that “might makes right” and that violence is a solution. Both are utter lies and completely deadly.
Until those qualities and attributes we degrade as “female;” qualities such as collaboration, communication, compassion and empathy are socially respected and elevated to their proper stature, the world will continue its downward spiral to extinction.
Despite all the strides that women seem to have made in terms of joining classically male domains like the workplace, it is the hearts and minds of the world that must change for this vital shift of perspective to happen.
The reality is women ARE equal, it is not a matter of opinion, and the sooner we reflect that in the world around us in terms of participation and power across ALL sectors of society, the better off we will be as a species.
Are you optimistic that we will have achieved gender equality by 2030?
We CAN and we MUST.
What will it take to achieve gender equality by 2030? / Why is it so difficult to achieve gender equality?
What is missing right now, which no one wants to admit, is the WILL and true INTENT by major players on the world stage to right this wrong, take the necessary steps. Not only is power difficult to share, but the illegal profits of gender discrimination being made off our backs are astronomical and addictive – every day, every hour, every woman – from 22% to 56% more bang for your buck, stealing from us.
Until we recognize that greed is NOT good, despite the propaganda claiming otherwise, that it is in fact a disease and a plague to humanity, it will be difficult to achieve gender equality. If nations, companies and individuals continue to advance the misguided philosophy that we are living in a hierarchical world order where there are “winners” and “losers” instead of shifting the paradigm to recognize that we are all linked to one another and must collaborate, we are in big trouble.
We must admit that, in general terms, we do not respect women. We must face the bias, both conscious and unconscious and recognize that as the dangerous and dangerously old-fashioned point of view that it is. The change needs to come NOW.
What actions and achievements related to advancing gender equality are you most proud of?
For the past eight years I have been immersed in a study of the areas of gender discrimination where we have laws that putatively protect women. This investigation became the film Equal Means Equal wherein those laws are shown to be what they actually are: smoke and mirrors.
The film has the opportunity to educate the vast majority of the American public who believe that men and women are already guaranteed equality under the U.S. Constitution – which they are not. I am very excited that today the state of Nevada finally ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, after 35 years of inaction. If I had any small part in that, I’m damn proud.
Do you have any advice to other business leaders who don’t know where and how to start?
My advice is to first take a good hard look at your own company or organization and make certain that you are not discriminating against women in pay or promotions. Do an internal gender audit of your own volition. If you find that somehow you are discriminating – rectify it. Speak to the women at your company, ask them to tell you what is not working for them (and actually want to hear it!) Then create policies and programs that take their needs into account and provide for them.
One of the most remarkable things about gender discrimination is the assumptions society makes about children. We must recognize that creating other human beings is not the sole purview nor responsibility of women. It takes two to tango and it should take at least that many to raise children and shoulder that burden.
Companies must no longer pretend the old model of the euro-centric nuclear family with a stay-at-home mother and a breadwinner father who makes enough money to support the family exists. That is over. Most of us have to work now.
It is a serious and unmet social responsibility that we have not addressed the unpaid labor of child rearing — all-too-conveniently left to the woman. Dropping out of the workforce to bear and raise children has such a profound effect on the economic bottom line of women as to be almost insurmountable. Re-entering the workforce, they suffer a “motherhood penalty” when they perform the socially important service of reproduction. It is right and proper that these issues be discussed and solutions found, not just in the particular family, but in the society itself as part of the underpinning structure.