I’m calling on all fathers.
For the past 10 years prior to Father’s Day, I have spoken to men about demonstrating advocacy for gender equality. In light of what’s going on in the world today, Father’s Day may be overlooked this year, but fatherhood is an important role to examine and leverage for change. Research clearly shows that having a daughter is a game-changer for men, and it can lead to greater identification with women’s issues, as fathers imagine the world through their daughters’ eyes. We need to explore these “heart changes,” and how they can impact a man’s willingness to become an advocate for women and others who experience life differently from him.
I often tell my clients that if we can’t talk about gender in the workplace, how can we hope to have honest and candid conversations about race. Here we are today at a boiling point, where so many of our systems are failing us as a collective. As sad as this moment is, it can actually become a singular one in which we have deep, meaningful conversations about equality in all the dimensions that make us uniquely human, including race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identities, gender expressions and religion.
We need fathers to step up like never before. Actions speak louder than words. Whether it is simply wearing a mask to protect others in a pandemic, ensuring that a woman’s voice is heard in a meeting or beginning to have conversations regarding #BlackLivesMatter or #PrideMonth, I am calling on fathers to accept this responsibility.
Fatherhood as a Game-changer
In 2018 for Women’s Equality Day, professional basketball player Stephen Curry wrote, “I want our girls to grow up knowing that there are no boundaries that can be placed on their futures, period. I want them to grow up in a world where their gender does not feel like a rulebook for what they should think, or be, or do. And I want them to grow up believing that they can dream big and strive for careers where they’ll be treated fairly. And of course: paid equally.”
I want our girls to grow up knowing that there are no boundaries that can be placed on their futures, period. – Stephen Curry
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 them. 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 that our personal care and attention to our own daughters’ potential does not adequately address. And at that moment, many of us realize we have important roles as advocates for gender equity in the workplace.
In her book, “Dads for Daughters,” University of San Francisco law professor Michelle Travis looks at how we can transform workplaces to work for all employees. “Invoking your status as the dad of a daughter gives you ‘standing’ to speak and advocate for gender equality in ways that allow others to listen and engage with an open mind,” she said.
This Father’s Day, Give Your Daughter A Gift
As we approach 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. Many of these actions address workplace policies that impact women, people of color and other underrepresented groups. What better gift can a father give his daughter than a shot at a brighter future?
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 that works for you:
To drive real change, please consider sharing this with two friends!
Jeffery Tobias Halter is president of YWomen, a strategic consulting company focused on engaging men in women’s leadership advancement. Founder of the Father of Daughter Initiative, creator of the Gender Conversation QuickStarters Newsletter and the Male Advocacy Profile, Jeffery is a former director of diversity strategy for The Coca-Cola Company and is the author of two books, WHY WOMEN, The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men and Selling to Men, Selling to Women.