January 4, 2016 — When December rolls around, it’s natural for us to reflect on the year and start thinking about how we might make the next one better. As the leader of Catalyst, I always hope that each new year will bring us closer to gender equity in the workplace. And of course, part of my job is to help raise awareness to get us there. But all the research in the world can’t change what we’ve been raised to believe or what society allows us to believe, as this very funny—and yet eye-opening—video from Jimmy Kimmel demonstrates.
I don’t know about you, but this video made me uncomfortable. Are we failing our children, if at such a young age they already spout stereotypes like “all women care about is makeup” and “women are weaker than men”? This video shows how very early these stereotypes take hold and reminds us that we can’t afford to assume that the next generation will bring about gender equality, especially when these kids are mostly seeing men in leadership roles.
If I have a wish for 2016 and beyond, it’s for our kids to grow up in a world where there’s parity in all sectors. This is not to take away from the great strides women have made in 2015, but there’s still work to be done. One step forward doesn’t mean we’ve made it. It simply means we’re heading in the right direction.
As Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” As the influencers of today, it’s our job to ensure we choose inclusive and diverse leaders now so that children can see opportunities for themselves in all aspects of their lives—and make a difference tomorrow. Even if you aren’t a manager or an executive, you can intentionally address the barriers to inclusion every single day. Whether through conversations, being bold, or being trustful, we all have the power to make change.
As we start 2016, I ask each and every one of you to use your power and your influence to bust these assumptions for future generations, so that one day this wish for parity will merely be a memory.