October 26, 2018

Addams Family Values – Why it’s time to let family values show us the path to equal opportunities

Yesterday, it was reported that the gender pay gap has fallen to its lowest level yet, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). There are, however, still huge disparities in earning among various age groups.

What if our home and family lives gave us inspiration and insight into getting to grips with equal workplace opportunities?

Lessons from an infant

With two sons, aged three and six, my wife and I were lucky enough to have our third child in the summer of 2018 – a beautiful baby girl. It’s safe to say that I am totally besotted by her and can’t wait for the journey ahead.

However, with three children under 7, I have never been so tired or busy!

As I am sure any parent would attest too – I can’t imagine giving my sons any opportunity that I wouldn’t give my daughter. We love, care and support our children equally and without exception, so it raises the question, why doesn’t this translate in the same way in the workplace?

In the business that I run with my partners, much like many professional services firms, our people and their happiness define our success.

Family values

Having grown organically from four people in London to 35 employees across seven locations in the UK and USA, we have fought hard to retain the ‘family values’ of the business. Fifty per cent of our global team are women and we are proud of it. I will be even more proud when we are in a time that I don’t have to quote that statistic.

I am extremely fortunate to be in a position to partner with the leadership teams of multi billion-Pound organisations, boutique firms and start-ups on their talent strategy, talent acquisition and retention agendas.

In the past five years, I have seen a seismic shift on the topic of diversity, which I am pleased to say now goes way beyond targets, percentages of women on shortlists and the companies’ image.

Ultimately, business leaders create their culture, control their budgets, the communication and the career opportunities within their firms, much like parents control the culture, communication, budget and opportunities within the home, especially in the early years.

For business leaders to truly give all employees the same opportunities;

First must come the desire. Ethically, morally, diversity of thought, emotional intelligence etc etc – there really is no logical argument against having this desire.

Be educated. Parents read books on effective parenting, attend anti-natal classes, seek advice from family members and other parents, so why do business leaders often not proactively educate themselves on a topic that is proven to drive profitability, more engaged workforce’s and happier clients?

Ensure that leaders at all levels of your organisation share the same desire and education. If you are passionate about equal opportunities for all and your leaders do not share the same vision, perhaps they should not be leaders in your business?

Be accountable. As a Leader, you are ultimately accountable for the performance of the business, your people and the impact your organisation has on the community you are part of. Equal opportunities must be infused throughout your entire organisation, you must invest and communicate no matter how big or small your business is. If you do not teach your sons how to swim or pay for your daughters’ tennis lessons, he will never learn, and neither will she.

Having grown up with three sisters and as the only boy, I have been lucky enough to experience the highs, lows and challenges that daughters face in their childhood, teenage years, and as women in the work place. I know that my sons will use the same experience, watching their sister grow up and supporting her as I will in everything that she chooses to do.

If family comes first, we should use the same principles in the workplace and the future will be a better place for my daughter (and my sons).

Just like the weird and wonderful characters who collectively make up the Addams Family, diversity will bring out the best in our workforce – when we consciously make the decision as individuals to embrace it in all its forms and nuances.