We’ve come a long way baby… but are not there yet.

“I have a hard time keeping good female employees. They always seem to be running off to some emergency.”

Those were really the words I heard come out of the mouth of a male CEO at a meeting discussing employee shortages. Really!

The local Chamber of Commerce hosted a brain storming session with business leaders specifically to discuss the shortage of not just quality employees, but any employees at all. (A great problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.) The room was filled with older males, with a few of us token females thrown in.

Before this abrupt change of topic, we had been discussing the shortage for entry-level position, specifically in manufacturing. Then, this zinger came out.

Initially, I was shocked that someone could still be this insensitive to the needs of his employees. Next, my feminine hackles were raised and ready for combat. Finally, I realized this was a great moment for education – as did the other females in the room.

The flaws with this point were many:

  • Typically, women are the caregivers in their family, and not just to their own children. Just ask the man who said that who he calls when he has an issue.
  • People are not just employees, they are parents, children, spouses, and so on. This applies to both men and women. So, what is his response when a male employee has to run for a family emergency?
  • If this woman is a good employee, why are you not part of the solution to her problems? If child care is an issue, what have you done to address this? If elder care if an issue, what have you done to address this?
  • Regardless of how far we have come, when it comes to family emergencies, men are not pulling their fair share. Who is the first person called? If men and women shared this load equally, this would not just be a female employee issue.

There were a few more points brought up by the other women in the room. Curiously, the men all remained silent. Whether it was because they felt the same fear or they were afraid to speak up with all the women up in arms, I don’t know.

So, I’m curious – how would you have handled this situation?


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