LeanIn.Org is a nonprofit organisation that strives to help women reach their ambitions and seeks to create a more inclusive workforce. Founded by Sheryl Sandberg in 2013, the organisation arranged numerous programmes to encourage gender equality and promote an institutional change amongst corporations. Specifically, the Lean In Circles provided a platform for women to connect and share their experiences. The ‘Women in Workplace’ study and the Mentor Her initiative stressed the need for greater support from companies and its senior leadership to combat the prevalent power imbalance between genders. Their Equal Pay Day campaigns also highlighted the unjust treatment of women through pay gaps, and their podcast ‘Tilted’ illuminated the uncomfortable reality of gender bias in modern society. They have thus successfully founded a series of events and reports to actively challenge any gender-related prejudice in the workplace.
Lean In Circles
The Lean In Circles is a global community that allows women from diverse backgrounds and nationality to network with fellow members of the group. The Circles enables women to share their experiences and receive peer support. Women from any background can connect with this social community by either joining a Circle or leading a Circle. By joining a Circle, the participant gets included in a small group of women where they can regularly communicate about their personal experiences in the world of work. Through leading a Circle, the participant can start a new Circle with their friends or colleagues to overcome their work/career-related challenges. The members of the Circles are then able to gain a supportive network of people and have monthly meetings with their group. Lean In also provides free meeting guides and other resources to encourage their participants to learn or build on their skills throughout the group meetings. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all events have turned into virtual meetings.
Women in the Workplace
The ‘Women in the Workplace’ study produced by Lean In underlined the hurdles that women must overcome at work and urges corporations to take further action in improving gender diversity. Through their reader-friendly structure, the research addressed issues concerning the representation of women in worksites. The report contained four different sections: corporate pipeline, uneven playing field, solutions for companies, and case studies. It covered a variety of issues ranging from lack of access/support at work to everyday discrimination and sexual harassment. The study also proposed detailed solutions that companies could adopt, such as fostering an inclusive and respectful culture and ensuring that hiring and promotion are fair for every employee, regardless of their gender. The full report is available on their official website.
Through the Mentor Her initiative, the organisation also urged men to support and advocate for women. By aptly stressing the fact that “not harassing women is not enough”, Lean In emphasised the importance of mentorship and sponsorship of women by male senior leaders and managers. Through research and surveys, they found that mentorship significantly benefits women with their future success and promotions. Given that women are still notably outnumbered in senior leadership, the need for a higher number of mentorship
arrangements has been depicted as imperative amongst businesses. They warned that women would continue to be underrepresented in various industries if members of the senior leadership (many of whom are men) do not support their female employees with career guidance. Hence, the organisation effectively utilised their Mentor Her initiative to tackle the pervasive marginalisation and harassment of women through mentorship programmes.
Equal Pay Day campaign
The Equal Pay Day campaign further provided an in-depth analysis of how women have been continually undermined by businesses, through the sheer disparity between the average pay of men and women. The organisation accentuated the inequitable nature of pay gaps, with women in America receiving an average of 18% less than men, and women around the world earning approximately 23% less than men. They underlined the globally inherent socio-economic injustice of gender pay gaps and remarked that people of colour are affected more severely. Lean In also exposed the issues that arise when working mothers get paid less than their male colleagues. With more than four out of five Black mothers being breadwinners, they noted that the pay gaps could have a detrimental effect on some families, who depend on their mother for basic necessities and survival. Their campaign effectively engaged the readers to reflect upon the impact of gender pay gaps on the livelihood of many families.
Lean In first established their unique podcast in October 2018, with their first episode being ‘How Reese and Eva are shaking up Hollywood’. Here, they explored how gender representation and the portrayal of women in Hollywood is gradually changing on-screen. In their latest episode on ‘Why women get overlooked in healthcare—with Serena Williams’, the featuring speakers discussed how the medical care and service of women has been affected by their gender. They revealed how gender-related bias exists in healthcare through the forms of misdiagnosis and treatments that have either been incorrect or not taken seriously enough for the patient. Their collection of podcasts demonstrated the different ways in which women have been regularly subject to some form of discrimination.
Lean In has, therefore, been an inspirational organisation that seeks to help women from all walks of life. Not only did they emotionally assist female workers through their safe Circles, but they also continuously acted as strong advocates for countless women who have been victims of gender inequality.
Eun Jae (Olivia) Kim
2nd Year, English (BA)