ZEITLINES | 02.25.19
Still image from Cheerios "Right on Tracks" Campaign.
Social norms – the collectively acceptable conduct that influences our view of the world are powerful and hard to change. These cultural touchstones - things like values, traditions, and beliefs shape both our own behaviour and the opinions we hold about the behaviour of others. In this time of extreme tribalism, they both unite and, thanks to a devolution of empathy in our public discourse, divide us.
This week, Account Manager Genevieve Raveau examines social norms through the lens of women in the workplace, comparing her home country of India to Canada. Spoiler alert: While, on the face of it there are dramatic differences, there is a gender equality deficit in both countries. And Sr Manager Digital Marketing and Growth, Fiona Scott makes her Zeitlines debut with an opinion piece about the unlikely leader in a crusade to stop climate change - the teenage girl whose own unique view of the world is causing others to stop and think about how we are thinking about and ultimately dealing with this issue.
Changing social norms, and all their built-in biases takes time and leadership. So first, a big shout out to General Mills, their agency 72andSunny, New York and the Cheerios brand for tackling some less than progressive social norms head-on with the delightful new animated campaign “Right on Tracks” part of the brand’s Good Goes Round CSR program. In this spot, Cheerios uses puppets and original music to shine a light on the diverse families that actually make up the social collective today- families with adopted kids, gay parents, single parents, foster parents, dual families and more – “it’s all family”. Before you read further, take a moment and watch this spot and ask yourself if your own view of what constitutes a family is reflective of the reality and beautiful diversity in our world today.
Motherhood and the Modern Day Myth of Meritocracy
Genevieve Raveau, Account Manager
Recently, I came across a “viral tweet” from Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group. For those of you who have never heard of him, he’s a pretty big shot in India – he’s a billionaire who has been featured by Fortune Magazine as one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” and listed as one of Asia’s 25 most powerful business people.
So, when he published this particular tweet, it was definitely newsworthy in India – a country where domestic gender roles are still being defined.
Mahindra captioned the post, “I’ve been helping to baby-sit my year old grandson this past week & it’s brought home to me the stark reality of this image. I salute every working woman & acknowledge that their successes have required a much greater amount of effort than their male counterparts.” The situation depicted in the illustration holds true for a majority of working women in India.
Growing up in India for the first 25 years of my life, I have witnessed numerous households where the woman is expected to juggle cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children, as well as holding an outside occupation. The work at home, including caring for children is considered a “woman’s job”. Men, on the other hand, just focus on their careers.
Thankfully, I was brought up differently, watching my dad share housework equally with my mom, as she partnered with him in his business. They were equal partners. They still are. So, the Indian norm of men not sharing the workload at home or taking care of their children, used to drive me mad. It was just plain, old gender inequality. While I’ve begun to see a shift in this among Indian Millennials, this stigma is still quite rampant throughout the country.
Here are a few replies from Indian women to Anand’s tweet:
Let’s move the conversation over to Canada. When it comes to defining gender roles here, it’s a different story. Canada placed 16th in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2018. Here, there is more gender equality, especially between spouses and partners. Many of my male friends have even shared parental leave with their wives, putting their careers on hold to take care of their children.
Why then does Canada still have a wage gap and why are there far fewer women in leadership roles than men? Women still make 74 cents to every dollar that a man earns, even though educational levels among women have surpassed those of men. While Canadians may not face the same “household duty” hurdles as Indian women face, there are other hurdles barring their path to succeeding equally to their male colleagues. Many working mothers, for example, are plagued with the question of “How can I be as dedicated to my job as before and still be committed to my children?”
Why is it we expect women to work like they don’t have children and raise children as if they don’t work?
In a short three months my own life is going to change forever. I’m going to be a mom. So, as I get ready to step into this new role, I can’t help but wonder how I will face a year’s pause on my profession. I’ve always been a “career woman.” There has never been a moment in my life where I wasn’t working at or towards something. I’ve either been in school or in a full-time job. How will my life change when I re-enter the workforce as a working mother?
At Republic – a young company just crossing the 6-year mark – I’m going to be the first woman to go on maternity leave. This is not only new for me, but also for the company. Yet, I have received so much support from my colleagues already. Probably perks of working in an agency where the leadership team comprises of strong, working moms! The firm truly practices empathy marketing – not only in understanding clients, partners and audiences, but in empathizing first with their own employees.
While I get ready to embark on a new journey and face life with new perspectives, I want to dedicate this post to all working mothers out there in appreciation for the numerous sacrifices they make to seamlessly integrate work and family life. Kudos to all our moms!
Climate Change is a 16-Year-Old Girl
Fiona Scott, Sr Manager Digital Marketing & Growth
Greta Thunberg is an incredible storyteller. She is a 16-year old girl from Sweden who is an activist working to stop global warming and climate change. When she was 11, she stopped eating and talking due to the depression she felt from what she was seeing in the world. In August 2018, she walked out of her school to protest bad climate policy outside the Swedish Parliament building. She gave a Ted Talk at TedxStockholm and has addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Scrolling through my YouTube feed, I stopped when I saw an image of a young girl with brown pigtails looking small but mighty on the Ted Talk stage. Admittedly, videos with titles like “The disarming case to act right now on climate change” are not usually my after-work wind down fodder, but I clicked. And I was instantly hooked.
What initially got my attention was her age. So young for a Ted Talk, which, by the comments I read, appears to have fascinated a lot of viewers: “I love it when a 16 years old slaps adults in the face with simple facts and logic...” and “Fell into depression at 11 because of global warming... That's definitely something she can add on her resume one day.”
But what truly kept me watching was simply…Greta. That determined, almost angry and fed-up, look on her face, and her powerful but measured speech, delivered in a Swedish accent, told me this was a human being with a story I needed to hear.
She painted her experience learning about global warming as an eight-year-old, with a childlike wonder and innocence, and then brought me along to her struggles understanding climate change and then ultimately to the question – Why we, as a society, are doing nothing about it? It was so simple and so real. A way in which this complicated topic is not often talked about. As she describes a childhood diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, the talk becomes more personal and more endearing, giving the viewer a window into the black and white way that she sees the world and the fact that she simply cannot understand how the sustainability crisis isn’t everyone’s priority. Visually, her story and her face tells her story. She cringes as if in pain as she mixes in big words and challenging ideas, she gulps and swallows, perhaps in nervousness from being on a world-stage but also a captivating method to bring viewers in deeper as she delivers dark news and the stark realities of this world crisis.
She describes humanity and our perfections, while her own humanity and imperfections are so readily on display. Her approach creates an undeniable feeling of empathy, as she challenges the audience and every viewer to advise her what she should tell her grandchildren when they are spending the day together in 2078 (when she is 75) and they ask why we didn’t do anything when there was still time to act. This difficult, uncomfortable, complicated topic of global warming became human in that moment as Greta asks us all in the most human and vulnerable way, to care.
Apart from the comments of viewers shocked by her age, I know I was not the only one inspired and incited by Greta from the impassioned paragraphs of comments from viewers below the video. Her storytelling drove an amazing result from the views and the comments, and for Greta’s sake (and the world), I hope it drives an amazing result for climate change. I now feel more educated to make an impact and am considering how I can challenge policy makers in the way that Greta challenged me.
I strongly encourage you to watch Greta tell her amazing story and think about how you, too, can inspire empathy and action to those around you for this important crisis.
If you have a story of your own to share, reach out to Fiona at firstname.lastname@example.org! #FreeYourStory