Helping Our Daughters Become Leaders Is About More Than Supporting Them In the Workplace
"If you’re a father and you want your daughter to be a leader one day, you have to do something about it,” Arzu Unal, CEO of Y&R Brands, Turkey, told a session on the value of female leadership at last month’s International Festival of Creativity in Cannes. And it really struck a chord. For as a father of a daughter, it has long been my view that the difference I can make in her future extends way beyond traditional employment structures.
Unal went on to describe a mentoring programme her agency has set up in order to stop the erosion of female talent within a workforce that is 70% male. Others, meanwhile, outlined their positive experience from support that straddled workplace and home.
Tereza Sveráková, Y&R Prague’s Chief Creative Officer, for example, told the audience that there are many women who are not as ‘lucky’ as she was in having a husband who chose to go on parental leave. He gave up on his PhD in Anthropology to go on what was unfairly termed ‘maternity leave’, she said, pointing to the importance of having supportive men around working women.
“There is a lot we can do to create more flexible structures,” added Y&R Madrid’s Managing Director Nieves Durán. “We need to change the belief that if you want to be a leader you can’t have your personal life.” Durán was herself promoted to the role of Managing Director whilst on maternity leave. “I felt really supported… as a professional, as a woman, as a mother… I felt I could find a balance… I could still be my best self at work,” she explained.
What’s more, not only does this type of supportive working environment nurture talent, it nurtures the creative process, too.
The importance of being able to bring your whole self to work is something I’ve long believed and written about before. As a customer engagement agency, TMW Unlimited is focused on the use of intelligent influence to create ideas that build our clients’ brands and businesses. Often this centres on challenging the status quo.
I don’t think I’m doing enough as a father of a daughter unless I do my part in helping her gender achieve its potential. My role doesn’t stop at home, in encouraging her and supporting her. And while I can’t always admit to being a ‘domestic god’ – the normal term, tellingly, is exclusively female – I can see that when men do their share of domestic, or care work, we make our homes, our communities, and our workplaces better.
What we need is not simply for men to call themselves feminists. Yes, it’s about showing up at events like these – and it was encouraging to see that I was far from being the only male at the value of female leadership session. But, more importantly, it’s about taking action back at home and in the office.