October 1, 2014 — Today Catalyst is launching #DisruptTheDefault, an initiative that empowers individuals and organizations to make bold moves that forge meaningful change for women in the workplace and the world.
I know from personal experience that real change doesn’t happen unless you take action—and risks. Below are five ways you can start disrupting the default—and reaping the rewards—today!
1) Don’t wait to act. As Gandhi put it, “We need not wait to see what others do.” Feel like you’re preaching to the choir at your women’s ERG meetings? Check out Catalyst’s tips on bringing men into the conversation! Wish your organization listened to millennial voices? Start a millennial ERG and request regular meetings with your organization’s president. We’re doing this at Catalyst and I’m learning a lot.
2) Ask new questions. The evidence is in: having more women in leadership is good for business. Stop pleading the case and start asking new questions. Instead of, “What can women do to get ahead?” ask, “What is my company doing to make that possible?” Instead of, “Why aren’t more women applying for this job?” ask, “How can we get more well-qualified women to apply?” I’m a fan of The Colbert Report, but I have a friendly message for its creator: it’s not enough to acknowledge that you only have one woman writer on staff—and leave it at that.
3) Assume you can do it. This follows from my first two points. When I first heard about an open position at Catalyst, I told my husband, “There’s no way they’ll hire me.” Left to my own devices, I never would have applied for my original position—and I certainly wouldn’t have gone on to become Catalyst’s fourth president. But my husband and others encouraged me to go for it. Days later, I had my dream job!
4) Say “no” to the status quo. “Give it time,” “We’re doing our best,” and “She’s not ready” are not acceptable statements in 2014. They foster complacency and lead to stagnation for both individual careers and entire organizations. Leaders take initiative, act with intention, and design bold programs with measurable results.
5) Hold your organization, community, and country accountable. I recently came across the notes from my 12th grade civics debate: “Be it resolved that women earn the same as men.” It was 1983, and Canadian women were close to achieving legal equality under our Constitution. Imagine my dismay when I learned that in Canada, university-educated women were earning 69.6 cents for every dollar earned by a university-educated man. My job as head of Catalyst is to align the equality I grew up expecting with the reality most women face when they enter the workforce. Ideals don’t mean anything unless you live up to them.
Every single one of us has some kind of power. #DisruptTheDefault is about identifying that power and challenging each other—and ourselves—to use it. Take our pledge, share it with your networks, and start making change now!