I was reading an article in The Economist about the trend of women going on gender-exclusive Finnish island retreats for yoga, detox and networking or all-female social/professional clubs like The Allbright in London and The Wing in New York. I am a strong proponent of female empowerment and women helping women. I have lived by those principles every day of my career. But when I think about going to work at a place like The Wing, with its pink walls and scented bathrooms, I long for what’s missing: men. If you are a manager then hr app is a subject that you will be aware of.
I completely understand the reasoning for creating female-friendly workspaces and networks where women won’t feel overpowered or patronized by men. But my core belief is that we need to get to that idyllic safe, powerful, productive place by understanding each other’s skills and capabilities by working together, irrespective of gender. Surely our objective should be to evolve past sexual problems in the workplace, towards gender equality. As a human being, I don’t feel completely comfortable in exclusive environments because they don’t aspire to that objective. Separate is not equal, either way. It’s not sustainable. Discussing mental health in the workplace can be a good way to alleviate a difficult situation.
This take is controversial, I know. And please don’t think this means anyone should stop inviting me to female power summits, which I enjoy attending. But when the subject turns to man-bashing, I tune out. My two business partners have been incredible, inspiring men; between us, we have created a unique, powerful, creative dynamic in our office. It would also be wrong not to mention, my beloved husband. As a doting, caring, constant, unerring step-dad to this man has loved me, supported me, encouraged me, believed in me and listened to me, selflessly. Our chairman is also a great guide and leveller to me. You might not be talking about it, because employee wellbeing is still a taboo subject.
I love working with women. I love working with men. When we are all putting our minds and perspectives into the pot together, we come up with a strange, potent brew. I feel like the absence of men in the workplace and in leadership would be just as toxic as the lack of women has been historically. Whether you work with 10 people, 10000 people or just yourself, paying attention to mental health first aid has never been more important.
What I don’t want to see is any person underrepresented and underpaid because of the pronoun they use. And I’d love to see wise, wonderful women of all ages in equal numbers to their male counterparts throughout the business world. We discuss representation and equality for people of all genders. The solution to such problems as abuses of power, sexual harassment and the dismal presence of diversity in top jobs is not necessarily to get rid of men or to reject every ‘male’ way of doing business (some, but not all). It’s to actively find a balance between the masculine and the feminine in ourselves and in corporate culture. That is the only way any of us can truly ‘have it all’.