When my team leads gave me the heads up they were planning to take the day off to support A Day Without a Woman as part of International Women’s Day, my first thought was one of sisterhood and pride. I am fully onboard with the surge in activism, and ensuring our voices are heard in such tumultuous times. And the thought of over half of our organization taking the day off at the same time is so powerful, visible, and tangible that I would like nothing more than to join the team and make a real statement.
And then my second thought…holy shit. We run a business. How can I, as a manager responsible for a business, encourage all the females on my team to not show up to work on the same day and put the business at risk? What would the repercussions be for the client, the agency, and myself?
Female/Leader, or Leader/Female?
Work life balance has always been a struggle. But over the years I’ve figured out how to tame the beast as much as possible. As a female leader within an organization, I’m now struggling between supporting women, and supporting the bottom line. YES YES YES we need more women in leadership roles, but NO, we should not hire a lesser candidate just because she is woman. YES YES YES walk into my office, ask for a raise, let me know if you feel passed over for a promotion because of your gender, let your voice be heard. BUT, I will do the due diligence to understand your progress and situation, and, just because we are both women, I am not automatically going to support your side. YES, strike on Wednesday, BUT could you please try and minimize the impact (even though it’s counterintuitive to the whole point?)
As we have seen in many reports, social good is becoming increasingly important and benefits the bottom line. But as a manager, sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always good for business. Sometimes my heart and my head are in the same place, but sometimes they are at odds—it’s what makes me good at my job most times, but what keeps me up at night others.
I cannot wait for the day in the future when this isn’t even an issue, but until then, I will continue to struggle with which hat to wear every time.
Melissa Levy, SVP Group Account Director, DigitasLBi and National Lead, Women@Digitas