This is my last blog before we usher in the next President of the United States.
Wow. That’s something.
I’m having trouble imagining what my life will be like should either candidate assume the Presidential mantle, but one question keeps going through my head on a loop: have these crazy political campaigns finally and officially killed the arbitrary separation imposed between work and life?
I suppose the answer depends on who you are and what you believe. But for me, it’s a bulls-eye kill shot, stone cold, dead ass yes. Professionalism is important, as is respect in the workplace. I’ll even say that certain topics are completely inappropriate for the office. But any equivocation that work and life – and politics is akin to life in many, many ways – do not criss cross like braided rope is 100 percent madness.
The political race has been a mirror for so many of the topics I cover in this blog, ideas and scenarios that diversity and inclusion and HR practitioners deal with on a daily basis: gender issues, prejudice, bias, inequality, privilege, racism, classicism, I could go on, but you get the point.
I’ll be the first to admit that in the grand scheme of things, some of the topics I cover may seem petty. Rudeness? Interrupting women while they’re speaking? Mansplaining? Focusing on a woman’s appearance while ignoring her qualifications? Telling a seemingly harmless joke at a disabled or gay person’s expense? Petty, right? Not unlike many things we’ve been forced to endure during election coverage.
But that’s on a granular level. When you roll things up, when you consider the overwhelming number of times these things happen, and the long term impact they have on a person’s earning potential, how someone is treated or managed, their learning and development and career advancement prospects, whether or not someone can be safe, happy and healthy as they move through work and life, suddenly it’s not so petty.
Watching the presidential campaigns unfold, analyzing how the candidates performed under pressure, seeing the public and the media’s response to each has sparked so many diversity and inclusion related ideas I could literally blog every day. But no matter who wins, I believe one thing with every fiber of my being:
Double standards exist. They are alive and well – if a little dusty and rusty with age – and they are dangerous.
Employing different sets of evaluation criteria to gauge a person’s suitability or viability for a job based on their gender, race or any other dimension of diversity is not only common, it’s scary. It’s like hysterical blindness.
Maybe you remember that movie? It came out in 2002, starring Uma Thurman, Juliette Lewis and Gena Rowlands. In it Uma’s character Debbie would have episodes where she briefly lost her sight. She didn’t know why, and it was frightening, but ultimately she figured out she was doing it to herself. Stress and neurosis was causing the temporary blindness.
People who deny gender issues and bias and the impact that economic privilege has on work and home quality of life are hysterically, deliberately blind. But I say, no matter who wins the election, let’s pledge to open our eyes wide. Let’s pledge to get comfortable potentially being uncomfortable, and read the writing on the wall.
It’s only when we acknowledge that work and life intersect, and that all of the perils and problems in one can and will cross over and create havoc in the other, that we can make change. And change is good.