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There's No Such Thing As A Well-Meaning Bias


While I was facilitating a diversity workshop to encourage male leaders to act as allies to women leaders – through mentoring, sponsoring, and building confidence - one leader shared that many of the women on his team did not want to move into leadership roles due to “the demands at home”. Others in the workshop chimed in, making statements that women have an “outsized responsibility to care for family members, sick children, etc”.


We examined the impact of these assumptions, and I shared with them my personal experience of hiring a nanny while I travelled for work, and how my spouse stepped in to help with school pick up after he was unexpectedly laid off.


Every woman has to wrestle with values-based decisions about their beliefs and priorities regarding their place in their world. The reality is that juggling work and home is difficult for both women AND men. The intention of trying to protect women from wrestling with tough decisions is misplaced.


It is a slippery slope to go from “some women prefer not to be in leadership roles due to family obligations” to a limiting “all women can’t make the sacrifices that may be needed to serve in leadership roles.” The intention may seem positive on the surface however the effect robs women of opportunity. At the end of the day, there’s really no such thing as a well-meaning bias.


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