Mature father and adult daughters at a table talking. Father is listening.

Dads, it’s time to listen.

An Invitation to Other Fathers to Be Advocates For Equality

This Sunday is Father’s Day. I’m inviting dads to join me in listening.

Yes, you read that correctly. Listening.

The past year shed a spotlight on challenges and inequities that are prevalent in the world around us. Last June in the wake of the murder of George Floyd long-overdue conversations about race and racism began to take shape. And through the course of the past year and the seismic impact of Covid on women and people of color, it’s become apparent that many of our systems are broken.

I’m calling on all fathers, and frankly, all men, to join me this weekend in having a conversation with your wife, daughter, working mom, or co-workers (women and men). Ask them:

  • How they are doing?
  • How they navigated the past year?
  • What support did they receive from their boss and their employer?
  • What support did they receive from their spouse — family and friends?
  • What support did they need and didn’t receive?

Your instructions are straightforward. Ask the question and then be quiet. Just listen. Genuinely listen to the response from your wife, daughter, working mom or co-worker. Ask the question again. Listen to them talk about their experiences in the workplace (or in the world). Really listen to the experiences of the women in your life.

We need more men to listen to understand.

Never before have we needed fathers to step up and listen. Change is needed. The workplace was not designed to support the changing demographics of the current workforce. Let’s be candid, the workplace as we know it was designed with the notion of the male worker who had a female spouse at home to manage the myriad of family and domestic responsibilities and tasks. Today the “average worker” is likely to be a single mother or a dual-working spouses who are managing careers, home and also taking care of their aging parents. The systems around us are breaking and those we hold near and dear are impacted by a myriad of inequities from pay to flexibility and processes that reward antiquated paradigms.

I’ve been upfront about my own transformation as a father. I’m a Boomer. My generation of men wanted to raise strong daughters. Whether it was sports or the arts, we supported their interests. We encouraged them to go to great schools and seek meaningful careers. But when they graduate and are offered 80 cents for every dollar our sons make to do the same job, we realize that they face systemic obstacles in the workplace. And at that moment, many of us realize we have new roles as advocates for gender equity in the workplace.

As Sean Harvey, founder of Symponia Men, outlined in a recent article, “When you consider that women make up 58% of the workforce and only 38% person of management positions and worse yet 18% of senior leadership positions. We’re out of balance. And when you consider that companies with more women in senior leadership outperform those that don’t by anywhere from 15 – 35%. We have an opportunity.”

Harvey continued, “What’s most needed for us to come into balance is greater compassion, not just dictating behavior change. The key to compassion is each of us doing our own inner healing work – our integration work – to deepen our level of understanding, kindness and care for others.”

It’s incumbent upon us as fathers to deepen our level of understanding in order to lead with a greater understanding of those we love and work with.

This Father’s Day, Give Your Daughter A Gift

This Father’s Day, I invite other fathers to join me in taking my Father of a Daughter pledge. I created this initiative as an easy-to-do, opt-in program. You commit to doing a minimum of one thing (hopefully more) to advance women. What better gift can a father give his daughter than a shot at a brighter future?

You’ll see that the first action is listening.

Of course, you don’t need to be a father to care about workplace equality or to participate in the initiative. Since each of us approaches this work in a unique and personal way, I’ve created multiple pledge forms. The important thing is to be involved! Select the approach the works for you:

To drive real change, please consider sharing this with two friends!

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Happy Father’s Day!

Jeffery