Women Imagine a “Life Well Lived”

I recently attended a webinar led by Jane Miller, COO of Gallup, and Kristen Lipton, Director of Business Development. Jane and Kristen did a fantastic job describing many of the benefits and issues facing “Women in the Workplace”. It’s really difficult to believe that working women everywhere are still underpaid, underutilized and underappreciated in the 21st century. That includes women working in the home too!

According to Gallup, full-time working women make 83% of what full-time working men make – and that percentage drops when it comes to African American women and Hispanic women.

Jane emphasized the incredible value derived from having the best possible employee mix. She talked about the complex challenges facing women at work and at home. She challenged the listeners to re-imagine work in the 21st century. We need to start listening to the voice of working women and adapt roles and schedules with individual lifestyles in mind. Through the application of diversity of thought, experience and perspective, both employer and employee can reap the rewards of a highly functional workplace.

As we seek to uncover the best ideas for the future, business leaders of all types will have to throw away the 20th century employee handbook and re-tool. To be fair, it’s not just the responsibility of Human Resources to find new hires that truly reflect our communities and company culture. Every hourly and salaried employee must evaluate the validity of the current work environment and decide if the habits of the past are truly just, appropriate and mission critical for today.

The 20th century “American Dream” is now a stereotype. The 21st century “American Dream” is customized, personalized and driven by purposeful experiences…experiences at home, work and play. Disengaged American employees now represent over 70% of the working population. Do we really think this is a sustainable model? Is it possible to create a place where the phrase, “I live to work” and “I work to live” can be in harmony with one another?

Tomorrow’s talent will opt for tailor-made schedules over clocking in. Tomorrow’s talent will choose companies who support the greater good over those who focus solely on profits. Tomorrow’s talent will migrate from city to city, job to job, even skill set to skill set. They will choose to live their personalized and ever changing definition of a “Life Well Lived” rather than recreate the American Dream of their parents and grandparents. The current reality is this, tomorrow’s talent is already in the workplace, and they are none too pleased.

Today’s talented employees venture far beyond finding their strengths, learning about their personality type or even mapping their DNA. Today, each and every individual has the potential to find their purpose and experience life in the most meaningful way possible. They are the architects of their own lives and they are relentless about living them!

Imagine this! What could we accomplish individually and collectively, if everyone could discover what truly makes them happy, content and successful? Instead of having a majority of America’s workforce disengaged at their job, what if the same percentage of employees was inspired and self-motivated? Imagine the financial shift. Imagine the rise in productivity. Imagine the cultural transformation of a workforce waking up each day, excited to get to work. Imagine the number of solutions that could be created if a positive mindset emanated from those seated in every office chair, or working in the warehouse or on the production line. Imagine the impact a C-suite could have if their focus shifted from constant problem solving to implementing innovative ideas.

Women in the workplace, a resounding YES! Diverse employees from all walks of life, YES! Diversity of thought and opinion, YES!

After all is said and done, a “Life Well Lived” shouldn’t just exist in our imagination. Work should contribute to our daily well-being. Work should be something that we want to do, not just have to do.

Jane, Kristen and the team at Gallup provided the data and proved once again that having qualified women in the workplace isn’t a luxury, a mere compliance with governmental recommendations or a thinly veiled compromise for diversity. Having women in the workplace in all levels of management, supervision and oversight is vital to the success, profitability and enrichment of every company or association, albeit large or small.

Isn’t it long overdue to take action? Simply put, hire more qualified women, pay them equal wages and let us break that glass ceiling. Place women, (and men), in roles that fit the job and their personal lifestyle needs. If so, we’ll soon discover the balance we all need to truly live a “Life Well Lived”. Imagine that!

You can read the full Gallup report, "Women in America: Work and Life Well-Lived" here.