Have you found yourself curious, confused or perhaps stumbling around how to relate with people of different genders in professional contexts? Are you aware that the rules have changed but not sure how?
We are amidst a profound culture change in how we relate to gender, power and sexual dynamics in the United States, and particularly, in our places of work. In the first year of this recent surge in the #MeToo movement from October 2017-October 2018:
There were 19 million uses of the #MeToo hashtag (The Pew Research Center)
More than 425 prominent people across industries were publicly accused of sexual misconduct (Bloomberg)
At least 11 states instituted legislative protection for workplace harassment (CNBC)
We know that things have not been working and that change is here. However, we haven’t yet imagined what might be possible in new ways of relating with each other. Our typical approaches of policing and repressing sexual dynamics have not worked. We have seen that eros finds its way in through the side door even with our best attempts at denial.
I have a bold idea. What if we welcomed, and turned toward the erotic impulse, even at work?
Sexuality is one expression of eros, however, the essence of eros simply wants to create, relate and transform. When we cut off eros because we fear its association with sexuality, we also sever creativity and the social-emotional intelligence that true leadership requires.
Our conventional scripts assume that men and women cannot work together in a way that is generative and mutual. I have a sense that as these traditional roles are imploding, we stand at an incredible precipice to gain new and powerful relational capacities that will enhance our effectiveness—and our joy—in our professional lives.
I am keen to explore what might be possible for us, and our earth, when we practice a more conscious relationship with power. How might conciliation in gender relations support a more sustainable world? What kind of creativity might be unleashed when we practice more skillful connection and communication?
While I certainly do not have all of the answers myself, I carry this hunch, a seed of potential vitality for our work lives and I invite you to be a co-creator in this learning experiment.
I will be co-stewarding a relational action inquiry co-lab, with author of Eros/Power, Hilary Bradbury, and founder of Vibrant Collaboration, Heinz Robert (turns out I’m not the only one with this bold idea!). We will be facilitating a space to tease out what we already know, to shine light on our blind spots, to reflect/learn each other’s perspectives and to uncover what new practices and models may help our collaborations to become generative and empowering for all.
This co-lab is especially for those who work with others, in teams and/or directly with clients or interested in the dynamics of workplace relations. Leaders, managers, supervisors of teams and people working in Human Resources may be especially interested. Please join us with your ideas, your questions, your personal experiments and your fears around how we might transform power toward a paradigm of power-with and discover more vibrancy in our work together.