Yeah, We Do Notice… So What?

As I was scanning through the Huffington Post yesterday, I came upon this piece aimed at helping to inform businesses on how to keep women employees happy at work. I’m not quite sure why I stopped and clicked on it. Maybe the term “painfully obvious” in the title helped to elicit some sort of physical and emotional response, or maybe, I’m just interested in the topic? Either way, I’m always skeptical of such pieces. Not because the authors are ill informed or speaking nonsense. In fact, quite the opposite is usually true. The main reason I’m skeptical is because, more often than not, their advice will not be taken by the audience they are speaking to, and that is disheartening to me.

But yesterday, for some reason, despite my skepticism, I opened the post and read it. It has some really good points in it, so I suggest giving it a read. However, I’m not writing today about how great or not great the post was. I’m writing because while reading it, two lines struck me, causing me to pause and reflect. And, anytime I’m moved to the point of immobility I feel the need to share with others the reasons why.

The two lines that stopped me are:

• Huang has some advice: “Just appoint more women. Just hire them! People will notice.”

• ”These are common sense findings,” Georgene Huang, cofounder of Fairygodboss, told HuffPost. “Women notice when there’s gender equality at work, both in terms of diversity in the management teams and in the culture.”

After reading and reflecting on them, I found myself thinking Yeah, we really do notice, and then found myself reflecting on all of the conversations I have had about such observations. There have been countless examples of women (AND men) saying to me that they will either participate or not participate in speaking at, volunteering at, or attending an event due to the number of women involved. I have heard preferences from very talented people about whether or not to work with, or at, a company based on the female representation the company has. In short, we DO notice, all of us, and the author pointing this out has helped me to stop and take notice of the noticing (very Inception, I know).

But what I realized, and why I think these words helped me to pause and reflect, was that by using these terms, the author was painfully (see what I did there?) pulling out of me the need to acknowledge that I HAVEN’T noticed the noticing. That I have just accepted this world we live and work in as is, and have, selfishly, thought that my acceptance, that my noticing, but not evangelizing the noticing, would somehow swing the pendulum in our favor one day. But that simply isn’t the case. Her words made me stop and think Maybe the reason businesses aren’t listening to the advice from these pieces is because I’m not always embodying that advice? Maybe I’m not letting them know that I notice? Maybe I am actually a part of the problem? Maybe… Maybe not.

And so, I’m not sure what call to action I have for you here today. I’m not sure how inspiring or motivational or informative this piece is, nor do I care about being any of those things. I just know that reading Emily’s piece caused a change in awareness for me. And, I hope that you walk away from reading this piece just a little bit more aware of what is and isn’t noticed and who is and isn’t noticing it. Further I hope the awareness you’ve gained helps you to think about your contributions, or lack thereof, and how you are helping, or are not, helping to create a world around you that you want to live in. I know that’s what this new awareness has done for me.