A century of male dominated institutions has run its course. These institutions have pushed the following above all else: competition, dissociating real people from numbers, breakneck speed, suppressing intuition and emotional intelligence, and operating under the false assumption that businesses don’t need a healthy society and environment. A great experiment is beginning. In spite of the various configurations of business as usual that dominates our news, the plates are shifting towards a new way of doing things. More of the same won’t get us better results, more jobs, a better quality of life, a healthier population, or improve our environmental crisis. The great experiment is this: will increasing the power of women in our society get us back on track to a better future?
Most feminine behaviors like being in touch with our emotions, emphasizing relationships, experiencing the great connection that exists on this planet- I’ve come to equate with weakness. These behaviors are not to be taken seriously. When women eschew their womaness and behave like men, then they are worthy of respect, worthy of serious roles. They are given permission to make decisions, since they have chosen to continue on with the dominant perspective. And meanwhile I watch the world continue to proceed toward a devastating conclusion – few good jobs, decimated environment, hateful divisiveness, extreme greed and poverty, people alleviating collective pain from this state of affairs through addiction – fully 11% of men ages 25-54 are not longer working or looking for work – 44% take painkillers daily (1).
This is serious. It makes my blood boil with anger. And in the face of this seriousness I turn my attention to the light of new possibilities. What if decision makers in companies were allowed to feel? What if decision makers got to really feel the weight of decisions that eliminate 100k jobs or tear down trees in pristine wilderness? What if they were encouraged to feel their connection to their fellow human and the world around them? What if there were more women to bring these behaviors back in balance? And what if they could actually behave like women rather then step in line with the dysfunctional set of behaviors that got us into this mess in the first place?
This may seem like a giant rag on men. I don’t mean to say that all men are the same or that the typically male behaviors listed above aren’t a great thing when in proper balance. But the proper balance thing is the key here. Our world has gotten incredibly out of balance and that’s the problem.
On the fringes of the entrenched business as usual institutions, women are starting their own business, waking up and realizing they are powerful. They have to fight everyday to remember that after being raised in a society that told them that their powers were cute like a child dressed up like an astronaut.
Let me get some things straight here. Can we all agree that it is best to operate in reality, best for the health of everyone including our businesses in the long run? Now the state of our environment is real, our bodies and what they tell us is real, what is actually going on around us in our communities is real. So from my perspective the status quo is looking a hell of a lot more like the child dressed up like an astronaut than an alternative where our people driven institutions become much more connected to the real state of affairs. That’s right – people driven – nothing is inevitable.
I should also say that men can and do embrace the feminine qualities that are in all of us. Ironically, the business that has provided a guiding light of hope for my work to create a conscious business is Patagonia – founded by Yvon Chouinard (a man). Patagonia is deeply connected to the environment and communities AND is highly profitable – in 2015 sales were projected around 750 million, their most profitable year yet (2). The giant sense of relief it brought me reading about his business in “Let My People Go Surfing” revealed to me that the narrative we live with is that connection to people and the environment and financial success are not all possible. Turns out – the image that you can either love the environment and advocate for it or you can “join the real word” and blindly cause environmental harm for profit, is just a myth. Thank goodness. Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s move forward with something better.
Get out there and fight for it!
1) “Millions of Men are Missing From the Job Market”, The Editorial Board, The New York Times, Oct. 17, 2016. Full link to article here.
2) “The Woman Driving Patagonia to Be (Even More) Radical”, Ryan Bradley, Fortune, Sept 14, 2015. Full link to article here.