In 2013 The Guardian published a piece on real models being a key to women's progress in the workplace, and that term has always stuck with me, and more recently I heard it again at a Working Families conference. The real model revolution, yes you did read it correctly, is about turning the dial through lived experiences. My twelve (almost thirteen) year old child put it quite clearly the other day;
Just because I'm highly dyslexic doesn't mean that Richard Branson is my real model. My real model is Ben Ainsley as I love to sail, I also just happen to be dyslexic. It's nice knowing that there are successful dyslexic's but at the end of the day I'm going to be a sailor.
It is important that we have role models within our organisations or wider cultures to look to for models of success, but if their lived experiences and work-life balance are very different from out own then they become less relevant in terms of inspiring us to move forward. It is very important that companies and individuals create a showcase of inspirational diversity by cultivating a range of successful real models, in addition to role models.
For example a company Women's Group should invite a mixture of board level role models and those who are making a success of being a small team manager to talk to their members. Similarly as an individual you should seek out people in your organisation, on Linkedin or even in real life who inspire you. Take the time to learn about their life balance aspirations and identify if they are possible real models for you given your personal circumstances. By doing this you are able to curate your own real model network - which is one of the most powerful networks that can help you in your career going forward.
All opinions are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.