Last week a newsletter came in to my inbox with the headline “Chevron gives $5M to honor men promoting gender diversity.” My first reaction was “WHAT???” and now, a week later, I haven’t calmed down ONE BIT, especially after digging into this a bit more. According to the article, Chevron itself has a problem with gender diversity as does the entire field: “Oil and gas has one of the lowest shares of women in the workforce among major industries, 22%, ahead of only construction.” Wouldn’t the money be better used to train women and/or promote women in these fields? Especially since only 20% of Chevron’s management positions are currently held by women.
Though we obviously need men to help us gain gender parity, mostly by not creating huge barriers of entry for women and people of color, it is way too soon to be offering such a huge grant to support men. Especially considering the huge issue with gender disparity within institutional foundation funding. Only 4-5% of foundations fund women and girls’ organizations- the majority of which goes to programs overseas. Most organizations that are working their tails off to make actual and real-time change in gender equality could do a lot with just a portion of those funds. 50 women and girls’ organizations could receive grants of $100,000 from Chevron that could truly scale the impact of the work that they do. In fact, if anyone from Chevron wants help identifying those organizations so they too can receive funding from Chevron, I volunteer to help. Even more insulting is that the organization receiving this incredible and generous gift has an infographic on their site entitled “ACTIONS WOMEN CAN TAKE TO SUPPORT MEN’S ENGAGEMENT.” Reading like an Onion article, the infographic asks women once again to be calm and patient and do all the emotional labor to make sure men don’t get their feelings hurt when they show their bias or, worse, are participating and benefiting from discriminatory practices.
There is a true benefit to corporations that have a gender equitable and diverse work culture. There are non-profit organizations that are doing the work to train your future leaders. Support those groups and that work if you want to make change. But a $5 Million dollar grant to commend men for work that hasn’t been done yet is insulting.