Fairness has been a core value of mine for as long as I can remember. One of my early memories is of my father tucking me in bed – I must have been 6 or 7 – on a cold stormy night, and my feeling warm and loved and taken care of. “Isn’t it too bad,” I said, “that there are little kids who don’t have a warm bed to sleep in?” “It is,” my father replied, “but there’s nothing you can do about it.” My instant response (to myself) was “yes there is! There must be!”
At University in the 1960’s I became deeply involved in and committed to the civil rights movement, and later to the feminist movement. For many years I worked as a consultant with the Institute for Women’s Leadership, a pioneer organization in empowering women leaders in companies, and I became familiar with the struggles of women in businesses. At one of IWL’s clients who had put hundreds of women through IWL’s programs, the women began to ask “what about the men,” and along with Rayona Sharpnack, founder of IWL, I co-designed a program for men to confront what gender inequality was costing them and the gains, both personal and professional, of altering their relationships with women. It was in this work that the term “gender partnership” was coined.
In the course of our work with that client, Rayona introduced me to Ray Arata, a man who had spent thousands of hours working with men on shedding outmoded myths and norms of masculinity, and Ray’s and my partnership began. Ray introduced me to the Mankind Project, a transformational program for male initiation, and he and I went on to explore the possibilities of working with men in corporate settings. Ray in turn introduced me to Dale Vaughn, a millennial man who was doing the same kind of work, and our tri-generational partnership that resulted in our forming Gender Leadership Group began.
I have a wife who is a professional, two grown daughters, and three granddaughters. I’ve seen firsthand what my wife and daughters have experienced in their work and in the world, and I am committed that my granddaughters grow up into a very different world – one where women and men work together, not just as equals but as true partners.