This is Thanksgiving week. (In the U.S. at least!) It’s a time that business is slowing down for many and speeding up for some (if you’re in retail.) If you’re lucky enough to want things to slow down and able to take advantage of the slower pace, you have the time to think of all the things that you’re thankful for. There are many things that come to my mind. Of all the things in business that I’m thankful for, the changing role of accepted male conversation at work is high on my list.
I was in the office of a client last week. His babysitter didn’t show up and he had to return home early. He was telling a few of his male coworkers and he was laughing about it. This really got my attention. Why? It was the second time in as many weeks that I was listening to a guy at work talk about caring for his kids and having to change his work schedule to do it. One was in senior management and one was more junior. What made these conversations so important is that you could tell by the participation of the other employees that they didn’t think any less of either of these men. That a senior manager could change his work because of his 4-year-old and not have him complain about it or delegate it to his wife was so refreshing.
That’s just one example that the world of business might be changing to become more gender neutral. Do I think we can finally say that the business world has arrived at being gender neutral? No, I don’t. Why? Because I think it’s still not advisable for a woman to mention her babysitting issues as part of the casual office banter when males are listening. When men mention their babysitting problems, the “new” perception is that they’re in touch with their feminine side. They get bonus points for that. When women talk about their babysitting problems, it’s just one more reminder that women are responsible for kids. It’s another reminder that caregiving distracts them from their work.
Here’s hoping that we can get to the point where everyone can have babysitter problems and talk about the problems without being judged. I don’t think we’re there yet. What do you think? It would be interesting to find out. Just be thankful that it appears the business world is slowly changing for the better — one babysitting issue at a time. For that, I’m thankful.