I don’t like the idea of equality of opportunity.
For me, it’s not about equal opportunities, but equal opportunities of results.
Equity, not equality.
My brother Nathan is three years younger than me.
When we were a lot younger and I was twice his age, I was naturally faster than him (now he’d beat me in any physical activity hands down).
Whenever we were put in a race, Nafe would always have a head start to compensate for my physical advantage.
An equal opportunity would be just putting us both on the start line and have us fight it out, but this is as unfair and more patronising than not being in the same race at all.
We were given an equal opportunities of results.
In January I am going to be a father.
The whole experience of being a father-to-be has really opened my eyes to the unconscious sexism that surrounds us in every day to day life but has also confused me about how to approach feminism as a man.
In Letchworth Garden City – not just my home, but also the home of the world’s first roundabout – there are two nurseries of note. Both have waiting lists longer than War and Peace and both need you to lay down a non-refundable £50 deposit to get on the priority section of the waiting list.
To get ahead of the game, my wife Emma and I took a day off work to go look round the two nurseries, with a faint, internet-guided idea of what is good and bad.
However, instead of preparing a future for my unborn child I was distracted throughout the whole experience by the fact I was simply ignored.
Everything was built for mummy and baby.
We can open early if mummy needs to drop baby off earlier than usual.
We have cameras so mummy can watch baby the first time she drops it off.
We have plenty of space for mummy to park the pram.
All of the discussion and language was directed towards Emma — I was an afterthought, if I was considered at all.
This hit me hard. It’s not that I was ignored by a nursery manager but it is distressing how natural this assumption of roles was.
In a very real way, I understood what it was like to be ignored for no other reason than my gender. I am not asking for your pity, I recognise how awful it is for it to take an experience like this for it to become real to me.
I had always brushed off Emma’s annoyance when I am always handed the bill, or when I am the only one being spoken to whenever we go on holiday, but now I understand how much of a problem it really is.
I recently interviewed Sue Unerman and Kathryn Jacobs, CSO at MediaCom and CEO of Pearl and Dean respectively, as well as authors of the brand new book, Break The Glass Wall: Success Strategies for Women at Work. (You can hear the interview on iTunes or Soundcloud )
In the interview I was introduced to the idea of pragmatic feminism; a sensible, forward thinking branch of feminism that is against the Social Justice Warrior perversion of feminism that is sweeping the internet at the moment.
I liked this idea. I liked that I can be sensible with equality, not just subscribe to the idea of women first.
It then got me thinking about how I see myself – am I an equalitist? A feminist? A masculinist?
With my upcoming fatherhood, I want to be the equity champion for my boy or girl so they naturally assume equity in their own relationships.
By its nature unconscious bias will always exist, however we need to recognise that the solution in the work place is not having a 50/50 split of men and women in interviews, or needing a certain amount of minorities on the boards of the FTSE 500.
The solution is to understand what is needed in each situation for every person to achieve the same results, putting them in to practice and – just as importantly – celebrating those differences.
I want to be celebrated for being home at six so I can eat with my family and read my child a bedtime story. I’ll be the most efficient worker you have.
I want to celebrate women, not least for their emotional intelligence and human understanding.
I want to celebrate difference, and use it as a strength to provide equal opportunity of results.
Equity, not equality.