It was the summer of our Arrive and Thrive book release. My co-authors and I were invited to New York City to have a “talking circle” with the venerable Gloria Steinem at her home. Gloria learned about talking circles from Mahatma Gandhi in the 1960’s, when she joined him in India for circles of generative discussions with rural village locals.
At 89, Gloria was a petite vision dressed head to toe in black with a fashionable wide belt around her waist. She had a glow about her – a light. We talked about many things, and the conversation was indeed generative, but the question I was hoping to discuss was one I had been consumed by for almost a decade: How can we more effectively engage men to co-create a world where women (½ the population) are ½ the world’s leaders?
Gloria Steinem hosts “Talking Circle” with Arrive and Thrive co-authors, New York City 2022
Pictured left to right: Janet Foutty, Former (retired) Deloitte Chair and Consulting CEO; Gloria Steinem, Writer & Feminist Activist; Lynn Perry Wooten, President of Simmons University; Susan MacKenty Brady, CEO Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership
Why is Gender Allyship such a Challenge?
I have witnessed powerful, intelligent men be all but rendered speechless on the topic of advancing more women in leadership. In fairness, there is a high risk of saying or doing something wrong, and the margins of error are slim. Most men with whom I have discussed this topic feel they did not create this unjust world and would like to be spared the pain of risk. Many men have told me over the years that they are well aware of what NOT to do or say (progress!) but could use some help to know how to be part of the solution.
Gloria – what do we do?
“We must call in the men,” she said.
My Institute for Inclusive Leadership colleagues and I were equally committed to calling in the men – but how? Could we use our formidable and respected Simmons Leadership Conference stage to ignite a conversation about calling men in to lead the way to gender parity in leadership – alongside women? Could we broaden our stage and platform to include all allies of all identities, accelerate transformation, and create impact? Who could we invite to make this a conversation that creates an untold impact?
The Bold Inclusive Force that IS Trevor Noah
How about we invite the truth-telling South African comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and former television host of the American late night talk show The Daily Show, Trevor Noah?
Allyship can’t lose to the fear of being canceled. Men need to be courageous right now. Why not go big with a bold conversation with a man who is afraid of almost nothing? Trevor Noah has shown his chops when it comes to matters of equity, inclusion and justice. Why not CALL HIM IN?
We invited Trevor Noah. He said yes.
Trevor & Gloria Uniting for Change
It was Gloria Steinem herself who suggested we “call in the men” and start talking about this on the biggest stages. Why not see if she would venture to Boston to make the power of two come to life in poetic ways? We did, and she accepted the challenge to speak at our 45th annual women’s leadership conference (SLC45).
Our aim for this transformative conversation is to create meaning for all around Allyship – and especially the phenomenally important strides we need to make in fostering a new era of Allyship for women. I can’t think of a better dynamic duo to speak the truth about what’s so on the hard stuff – and give insight into the inclusive leadership needed – to bring to life a world where half the world’s population is indeed half the world’s leaders.
I have the honor of hosting this important allyship discussion. If I wasn’t, I would be getting my popcorn and sitting on the edge of my seat for what might transpire. Why? Because we all have something to learn from a conversation with Gloria Steinem and Trevor Noah. The conversation itself has the potential to show us how.
Be Part of the Diversity in Leadership Conversation
Join us on April 3rd, either online from anywhere or in-person at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. This event will showcase groundbreaking ideas from the perspective of both women and allies. Other featured speakers include Cassandra Worthy, Jennifer Hyman, Magie Cook and Padma Lakshmi. Network with a diverse community of passionate individuals spanning many fields. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so don’t miss your chance to take part. Register now!