Does Anybody Bear in mind the Movie, ‘Working 9 to five’?
In 1980 there was a comedy about working women called Working 9 to 5, do my millennials remember that? Yes, the one with Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. I was just a kid when the film came out, and while it struck me as funny and humorous at the time, I had no idea what it was really about. But now I definitely understand!
Here’s the gist: Some women who work for a small business experience mental overload, harassment, and discrimination in a toxic work environment. They are tired of getting rid of their sexist, bigoted boss. When the boss is finally “away,” the women take over the running of the company and develop extraordinary new policies that include things like equal pay and flexible working hours. What revolutionary concepts!
These new changes will greatly increase the company’s performance and productivity. Finally the boss comes back on stage and takes all the credit. In the end, one woman is promoted, the others leave the company.
Fast forward to the present (oh yes, and real life). In most cases there has been significant progress for women in the workplace; Promotions, even to the C-suite, are no longer fictional. The number of women in management positions in American companies is growing steadily. But as the 2021 study Women in the Workplace by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org shows, there is still a lot to be done.
Some of the alarming – but unfortunately not surprising – discoveries that struck me were:
- 42 percent of women say they “almost always” felt burned out at work this year
- Women of color are still severely underrepresented in management positions
- Women with disabilities are largely overlooked in pay rises and promotions
- Lesbian and bisexual women are uncomfortable with putting all of their selves to work
- Black women experience more microaggression than other groups of women
- Asian women are less likely than other groups of women to receive positive feedback on their leadership skills
- Most white employees consider themselves allies at work, but fewer than half actually take allied actions
It is telling that the study even reads, “To drive change, companies need to invest deeply in all aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion … Companies also need to create a culture that takes full advantage of diversity – one in which women , and all employees feel comfortable contributing their unique ideas, perspectives and experiences. ”Sounds like a déjà vu to me.
The McKinsey & Company study reminds me why working with Talking Talent is so important. I am encouraged when I think of the real life stories I hear firsthand from women who overcome overwhelming demands through our coaching and development programs, move forward in their careers, re-prioritize their well-being, and seek advocates and allies for that Women will work with them.
It will take more time and effort and real commitment from organizations and employers around the world to act, but I believe if we all play our roles properly we will be in a much better place in a year when the credits come due the 2022 report. At least I hope we stop imitating the 1980 comedy.
Teresa Hopke is CEO of The Americas, Talking Talent, a global coaching company that inspires inclusive cultures that enable people and organizations to thrive. It works with organizations around the world to drive company-wide behavioral changes that accelerate business performance. As a working mother of four, Teresa is committed to creating a more inclusive world for her children and the organizations she serves.