I make no secret about pushing for equality in the workplace. Coming up in the tech world as a woman was no easy task and it’s not any easier for the women who came after me. The big changes will come as the hard work of this generation of women will come through in the attitude and demeanor of the generation that follows us. We wait eagerly for these big changes but I constantly get questions from my mentees about what they can do today to make an impact for equality in the workplace. Like anything else, change starts with ourselves. How can our small behaviors today lead to greater changes tomorrow? Sometimes, it’s about what happens behind closed doors.
If you’re paying attention, there are two times during the day when most male team members are away from their desks. Sometime in mid-morning, and again in the late afternoon. If you couldn’t guess, they’re not all going out for coffee. Having looked at our building’s utility bill there’s a spike in water usage during these time periods. Data from our smart toilets allows our facilities planning team to monitor toilet usage on a granular level and plan accordingly. There was no surprise when I was in a planning meeting and learned that our new offices would have an additional stall included in the men’s bathrooms. I was appalled. I was appalled not because of the natural body functions being discussed, but because the data for women’s bathroom usage was so low. Why should we hold ourselves back like this?
These are the little ways that we women hold ourselves back in the fight for equality. How many female-identifying team members never go near the bathrooms at work? Why would not take advantage of this opportunity to rest and relax during the day? I give this advice to all my mentees. If we can normalize this behavior amongst ourselves we can avoid being left out from resource allocation. We can also feel human in the workplace and prove that we can do anything our male counterparts can. By prioritizing our comfort we send a message to ourselves and fellow women that we’re willing to take what is ours on all levels. It’s the movement we need today for equality tomorrow.