Ask a person, “Are you a feminist?” and they may say “No.” That angry activist reputation still lingers.
Ask them, “Do you believe all people should have the same opportunities, be paid the same for doing equal work, have the freedom to make the choices they want?” and they say, “Of course.”
Big reveal: That’s feminism.
Fairness is the new wash. This round of feminism is about equal, but different. Men and women—all gender designations, for that matter—are not the same, but all are interested in being treated fairly and appropriately. And this, my friends, is the critical nuance of fourth wave feminism.
What You Need To Do
Be aware. Aware of the mood, the language, the changes in the sociocultural landscape and how they will affect your business, your team and your offering.
A Quick Primer
How we got where we are.
The Gender Agenda—The un-miss-able hot button issue of 2015. The backbone of feminism since the beginning of time—“men and women should be treated equally,”—with the added definer, “but not the same.” Why? Because men and women are not the same.
The Equality Act—Laws are passed. New take: more rights are democratized. Everyone can love and marry whomever they choose. This is a great step but doesn’t ensure that attitudes and behavior are regulated.
Maternity/Paternity—Waves in the HR pool. This topic takes center stage with Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement and continual postings on paternity leave. This discussion will continue to gain steam and splinter into related family and career touchpoints.
Social Influences—The most powerful leaders are not the Most Powerful Leaders. The Caitlyn Jenner story cracks this egg wide open and a strong and positive discourse ensues. Lena Dunham launches the feminist flag-waving Lenny Letter to celebrate the movement in a positive way.
Commercial Cues—Early adopters of the stance and language. Chanel’s Spring 2015 grand finale of models picketing feminist manifestos and pop-up shop Less Than 100 offering the same product at 100% of the price to men and 78% to women to close the pay gap.
Defining The Change In Attitude
Understanding mood and tone.
This movement is:
Optimistic—Fourth wave feminists are born with conviction and confidence. The cocktail is the perfect mix of self-assuredness and individuality.
Empowering—They’re not sacrificing femininity for feminism. Men and women are engineered differently. And that’s a good thing. Read: complementary strengths and weaknesses.
Encouraging—Supportive sisterhood meets innate Girl Power-powers. Someone is there for your trust fall. Go ahead, lean back.
Accepting—“Born this way”mentality. The body positive movement grows and all varietals are welcome.
Flexible—Corner office? Who cares. Having choices is the goal. Curating their own life paths and plans.
Getting Down To Specifics
The industry affects.
- Fashion sees activist slogans crop up to promote the social movement, intimate apparel gets an “its OK to be sex positive” nudge, and universal or agender collections are resonating.
- Food & Beverage-induced role reversal opens the audience for brands and businesses; women launch craft beer businesses while men shape kitchen design with a growing interest in the cooking arts.
- Hospitality & Home leans heavily on feminized environments with shades of pink restaurant décor and a rise in tailored travel experiences for the solo female guest.Beauty businesses get a broader customer base as unisex skincare lines come into the market and men’s cosmetics are added to existing lines.
- Entertainment leads the way with men taking the leading lady slots, while in real life female actors get vocal about wage discrepancies. On the music front, DJ-ing sees an influx of women.
- Tech & Social ramping up equals more opportunity for female programmers on the business end of things, and coding initiatives for little girls become the feeder program.
Gut Checking Your Business
Answer yes or no to these and check your score.
1. Leadership—Is your leadership gender-balanced?
2. Language—Do you use modern and relevant terminology?
3. HR—Is there a strictly one-size-fits-all corporate structure?
4. Product—Is product moving forward as needs and sensibilities change?
5. Presentation—Do you walk the walk and talk the talk?
Scroll down for the answers
(Answers: 1. Y, 2. Y, 3. N, 4. Y, 5. Y)