Equality is Impossible
The past few years of my life have been centered around striving for equality. Equal numbers of women in leadership in the Ad industry. (We’ve recently reached 10% of women in creative leadership… #winning?!) Equal household responsibilities so it was theoretically possible to successfully function as a working mum. Equal “me-time” with my now ex-husband for a quick yoga class and beers with the lads. Equal ratios of women in development roles. Equal handouts of promotions and raises. Equal pay. Equal. Equal. Equal.
I’m realizing that I, and potentially many others are stuck in logical fallacy. And equality seems like an impossible goal to reach — in my lifetime at least.
It’s easy to focus on equality. It sounds much simpler. Makes a better tagline. But let’s consider equitability for a minute. Equitably means fairly, justly, impartiality, honestly, but not exactly equal.
I learned about equitability by going through the process of a divorce. You are advised by the lawyers to seek equitability, knowing that it’s never as simple as splitting things down the middle. One gets the crockpot, the other gets the blender. One gets the higher value vehicle, while the other gets more furniture. It’s contentions during this process that, I think, cause such messy and elongated divorce proceedings — full of squabbles over material things. Equitability is about compromise. About giving and getting in a balancing act where everyone loses, and no one walks away entirely happy. It doesn’t always feel fair, but it works out as justly as possible. If you embrace the process of equitability you can get through the nightmare quickly, and not entirely losing or winning.
If we shift our focus from equality to compromise in typical workplace situations, it becomes more about negotiating to a point where both parties walk away in a lose-lose situation. Right now, it’s the companies that win and the humans that lose. In compensation, in family leave, in career stature, in happiness — across the board. It’s nowhere near fair currently. It’s not just. It’s even inhumane. We need to divorce ourselves from this dated and stale relationship with our places of employment. Find a new way of being, rather than always taking the lose card and saying thank you.
It’s equitable for people to wrap up their work in evenings and weekends for flexibility during the week.
It’s equitable for companies to support fully paid phased return policies from parental leave, and for parents to leave their too-young children in care.
It’s equitable to give an unsolicited raise to a women to ensure she makes a comparable amount to her male counterparts.
Regardless of agreement or personal resonance with these examples, there is equitability to be sought out in your world, immediately. Compromises to be made. But both sides of the conversation need to be ready to engage in the dialogue. Both need to be ready to lose for the forward momentum of our society.
For your own health, let go of reaching for perfect equality. This is all messy and imperfect, and striving for 50/50 will drive us all insane.
Life is a balancing act, yet when balancing you are never quite fully still. You never hold a pose in yoga without movement. The strength is in the ability to breathe and wiggle without falling flat on your face. There is no exact moment where one is inert. Lifeless. Still.
So let’s embrace the wiggle. Namaste.
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