Inspiring and activating men and women to work together to end gender bias. This is a very thoughtful speech and movement (HeForShe – UN). Emma Watson talks about gender equality, for women and men. The issues are not only about equal rights for women globally, but about the negative impacts of gender profiling on both sexes. About equal pay for women, and for “strong” women to be viewed as strong not bossy, but also about the importance of accepting vulnerability as a human condition, that men can express their feelings without being viewed as “weak”. To tie in the suicide rate of young men into this issue was not what I expected, and yet I do understand. We create gender based societal stereotypes and expectations that hurt both genders. And the UN is calling for a collective movement and commitment from all people, men and women, to change this.

This all shows up in the workplace as well of course. And there is a huge push for women to “break” the glass ceiling to rise above the “sticky floor” and to “lean in”. I see this a bit differently – I see male and female leaders both that are collaborative and labelled as “not decisive”. I see leaders that don’t accept the status quo be labelled as “difficult to manage”, when their intention is to drive innovation or improvement.

If we want to truly address these significant global challenges – like gender equality – we need to leverage the unique strengths of every person, regardless of race, sex, or any other “difference”. We need to bring forth our most authentic selves, our unique strengths and voices, and to fully respect and call forth the authentic strengths of others. Our differences make us collectively STRONGER. Imagine a world where we all understand who we are at our best, and what we can most contribute to the world around us by the age of 20 or 25. And in that same world, where we are given the opportunity in high school, college and in our early careers to take turns “leaning in” to co-lead with our peers – who are equally clear about their own strengths. Where differences are cherished and leveraged, not just tolerated… I believe we are on a path to this future – and efforts like HeForShe will help us get there. And ultimately, it’s up to each of us to do our part.