#HeForShe and Gender Inequality in Business

What would be possible with a complete absence of gender inequality in the workplace and in business? I’m not talking about activism and awareness after something happens, but rather, a global disregard for gender biases?

What if a little boy felt free to explore fashion, or a little girl didn’t have to think twice about throwing a ball with the boys?

What if no one doubted a teenage girl when she declared engineering as her major? And what if a father could stay home to raise his children, whilst his wife works fulltime, without being judged by the neighbours?

This is the kind of world that the founders and followers of the #heforshe movement envision, and it’s the same type of brand culture you can adopt to build a business without gender inequality in the workplace.

Started by the UN (United Nations), #heforshe aims to eradicate the negative stereotypes that trouble, plague and flat-out oppress women and those who identify as female. This movement is unique in that it doesn’t see gender equality as only a benefit for women, but maintains that when women are truly seen as equal to men, everyone benefits…socially, politically, professionally, economically and personally.

A common initial reaction to #heforshe is that men and boys really aren’t concerned with gender inequality in the workplace—that it’s a fight to be fought by women, for women.

However, that indifference isn’t as common as you might think. Emma Watson put it so succinctly and effectively to men: “Gender equality is your issue too.”

What was she really getting at? First, she’s saying that women aren’t the only ones who are subjected to sexism. Second, she’s acknowledging that we can’t possibly begin to experience genuine gender equality when only half of the world’s population is included in the conversation.

In short, let’s invite men and boys to move with us…so we can accomplish our gender equality goals more quickly.

Too often, when we think about the typical differences between genders, we assign rigid criteria to each. As a whole, we have tendencies to believe that men are always better at certain tasks, whilst women always excel in others. And yet, we have enough people legitimately and successfully break those “rules” that you’d think the world would have changed its view by now.

Sure, it’s true that some traits are more likely to show up in one gender or another; but does that mean when the “rule” is broken, that the person is broken? That they can’t contribute to an equal degree because their talents and preferences don’t match their physical features?

Also too often, we see gender differences as blockades; as walls thrown up in communications, or difficulties that are just too problematic to create harmony.

But what if we looked at it from a different perspective?

What if, like #heforshe suggests, we look at those differences like necessary variances, each of which brings variety and balance to every scenario from home life to business management to political leadership? And what if we didn’t assume that particular traits were going to come from one gender or other, but instead assess each person as an individual with unique and valuable contributions to make?

In business, this diversity is long overdue. Women bring too many feminine leadership traits to the table to be ignored, and when you unite all that women have to offer with everything that men are bringing to business, the results are sure to be exceptional.

So what does this mean for men and women in business? Everyone—not just men and not just women—need to start looking at the wide array of strengths that women have to offer small and micro-businesses. This is where their impact can be felt most profoundly.

It’s not about overturning power, but instead, the balancing of powerful gifts—recognised by everyone involved, and pursued by everyone who wants to see that business succeed.

Do you have questions about #heforshe movement, gender inequality in business, gender inequality in the workplace, how you can get involved, or how you can apply #heforshe principles to your own small business? Do you want to get the men in your company involved and actively supporting this concept? Or are you a female entrepreneur who wants to connect with others who understand the struggle? Then I cordially invite you to join the Secret Women’s Business Academy, where conversations like this are happening on a regular basis. You can learn more about the Secret Women’s Business Academy here.