By Samantha Pak
Northwest Asian Weekly
There are many things companies can do to be successful, from streamlining processes to recruiting prospective employees at top colleges and universities in the country.
In addition to working to make sure they have the best possible employees, companies can also look at who they are hiring.
In “Better Together,” Jonathan Sposato does this by looking at how bringing more women into any given industry — with an emphasis on promoting them into leadership positions — can be beneficial for a business.
While women make up half of the world’s population, there are only 24 female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies in the United States. When I read this, I was surprised by the low number, but I wasn’t exactly shocked.
I admit that when I first picked up this book, I was a bit skeptical about what Sposato — a man — had to say about gender equality. I expected a little bit of condescension and a whole lot of mansplaining.
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Sposato’s approach. He acknowledges that his gender could be a reason to discount what he has to say. But he also points to his background as a person of color who grew up in a biracial family, as someone who understands what it can be like to be part of a marginalized group.
But drawing from experiences can only get you so far — especially given the subject matter. So in addition to sharing anecdotes from his own experiences with the women he has worked with throughout his career, Sposato also uses data gathered through research and various studies. He even admits when his own biases and preconceived notions have led him to believe one thing or another about women, only to be proven wrong.
This was refreshing because Sposato does more than just pay lip service to the conversation around gender equality. He shows that not only is having more women in the workplace and in leadership positions the right thing to do from a social standpoint, it is also beneficial to companies from a business standpoint — and has the numbers and figures to back it up. Having that information can be key for those who may be skeptical about the need for gender equality or who may think we are already there (newsflash: we’re not).
The solutions Sposato suggests in “Better Together” are practical and implementable. And when you think about it, while they might require a bit of a change in way of thinking, they are not that difficult. When you boil it down, it’s just a matter of not only treating women equally, but acknowledging the fact that centuries of societal expectations actually have them at a disadvantage — often in ways we don’t even realize.
Sposato also includes anecdotes from women in various industries at the end of each chapter. These “Straight Talk” sections offer insight into what life is like for a working woman. As the title implies, the women give it to the readers straight. They share personal experiences and often raise questions or point things out that I wouldn’t have considered. And if I, as a woman, wouldn’t have thought of them, these points could easily be overlooked by a man. These short anecdotes offer the reader some extra food for thought as they read through Sposato’s suggested solutions.
Gender equality in the workplace is a complicated topic. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Sposato explains his thoughts in a way you can understand. He doesn’t dumb things down. But he speaks plainly so his points don’t get lost in translation. This made “Better Together” easy to read, which is important as sometimes how-to books use hard-to-understand language as a way to sound smart, when it just makes things more difficult to understand and the point gets lost.
Samantha can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.