Women are a hot topic right now.
Specifically, women in the workforce.
In its early days of Gloria Steinem, it was called Women’s Lib. You had to say it with a tone of disgust, like you were spitting it out. “You’re one of them women’s libbers, ain’t ya?”
The conversation, or at least the tone, has changed.
Now, it’s about some of the finer points. We aren’t just figuring out a seat at the table, but we’re ensuring that we are paid well enough to be there. That means sufficient income to adequately care for our families, dress as needed, and plan for retirement. It also means that we are heard, not merely tolerated.
Our Q4 2015 report points this out in a single word: “Womentertainment ™.” It says women have begun taking the lead roles across the spectrum of entertainment, including film, gaming, television and even contact sports.
• An all-female Ghostbusters revival is set to come out in 2016.
• Chelsea Handler made history as the first woman late night host on a streaming service—getting her own late night talk show on Netflix, called Chelsea Does…
• No fewer than 23 major games at the most recent E3 conference featured women as main, playable characters—a stark contrast to what was available in previous years.
The evidence is pointing to new conversations, too, ones that go beyond entertainment, beyond even the boardroom, and into those hourly positions that seem to get left behind. These three issues keep coming to the forefront:
1. Address flexibility needs for hourly employees. Sure, you say, they are hourly—just take off. But sick children, appointments required during normal work hours, all take their toll and hours often can’t be made up.
2. Improve opportunities by providing clear career paths that aren’t just part of the corporate playbook, but are actually acted upon and put into play.
3. Quit making it about gender. These issues go across all people in the workforce. Perhaps it’s time to quit singling any group out and take a new look at equal pay for equal work.
Say this over and over: It’s not childcare; it’s flexibility. It’s not pay; it’s opportunity. It’s not gender differences; it’s ensuring gender doesn’t influence the outcome.
Change the discussion from the same tired stuff that just makes women look whiny and that they need someone’s help to rise above. The only help needed is a fresh look at how we structure the workforce. Then we can say, “You’re one of them people contributing to a healthy economy, ain’t ya.”