Making Change Happen in Utah

Last night at the Oscars, Patricia Arquette used the stage to speak about an incredibly important issue to me – equality for women. Unfortunately, her memorable Oscar speech was followed with backstage words that didn’t help the cause. You can agree or disagree with her backstage follow up, but I hope that it is hard for any of us to disagree with what she said behind the microphone.

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”             – Patricia Arquette

The issue of equal rights, and equal pay for women has been on my mind a lot lately. Since last fall, I have been spending a lot of thinking time about how I can help the women in my life succeed professionally. Whether it be giving my time to them, or clearing the path for their success, I have become more aware that I have a key role in helping the people around me succeed.   Last nights speech from Patricia renewed my energy, and I decided to write tonight about an experience I had last December. I had intended to blog about it then, but lost momentum. Thank you Patricia for helping me to get pissed off again (the most productive time to channel my inner feminist!).

In December, Jon and I were watching television after our kids were in bed.  He was on his iPad browsing Facebook, and ran across an article from the NY Post that caught his attention.  The headline….”5 places women shouldn’t spend their travel dollars.”  He asked me to guess to see if I could come up with the list of places before reading me the article.  I rattled off Saudi Arabia (on the list), Iran (not on the list), a few countries in Africa (not on the list), and he continued to say no until I couldn’t come up with any more ideas.  Finally, he just started reading me the article.  My jaw dropped with the mention of Utah as #5.  And Turkey for that matter, which when visiting I found a wonderful open place.

The article leads with:

 “It’s a sad fact that in the 21st century, women around the globe continue to encounter rampant discrimination, harassment and inequality. Sad — though not necessarily surprising. Here are five places where women’s rights are being exploited and sexism reaches into the highest echelons of government — reason enough to take your travel dollars elsewhere.”

The state I love to live and work in meets this description?  That sucks.  I found myself a combination of pissed off at the state of affairs for women in Utah, and frustrated with the quality of journalism demonstrated by the NY Post.

Part 1:  As I mentioned in my previous post, we do need to make progress in Utah.  We need to raise young men and women who think about many options for a woman’s career – both going to work and being a mom.  We need to close the pay gap between men and women which is ranked 49th in the United States for equality.  We need more females in our state government.  We need more women in company leadership.  We need more young women to complete post-secondary education.  And, we need companies to lead the way to make this change happen.

Part 2:  Good journalism is dead.  This may be extreme, but so is calling Utah one of the top 5 worse spots for women to put their travel dollars based on discrimination, inequality, sexual exploitation, etc.  There are countries around the world where women cannot show their face, where over half of new brides are under 16, where over 80% of women report domestic abuse, and you put Utah as #5 on this list?  I appreciate the journalist bringing attention to women’s issues, and even the women’s issues of Utah, but do your research.  This article was simply inflammatory (which of course I fell for hook, line and sinker).

I feel lucky to have a support network in my husband, family and friends that help support my desires professionally and personally.  I am grateful for my upbringing where my parents taught me to only see what is possible for me, never the barriers in front of me, and to work hard to achieve what is possible.  I feel proud of my company, CHG Healthcare Services, for creating a culture to work where women in Utah (and around the country) can have the career that they want, while balancing a family at home if they choose.  Our leading brand, CompHealth, has an executive leadership team with 50% women leaders.

This recent speech by Patricia Arquette and the preceding NY Post article has elevated my commitment and my desire to utilize my experiences, and the experiences at CHG Healthcare to lead Utah out of inequality, to show other companies, and women living in our state, that change can happen if we all put our energy, our money and our time towards making it happen.  In doing so, we will not only create a better culture in Utah for females, but equality for others who are underrepresented.

So what, you may ask, am I going to do about it?  No answers yet, but stay tuned.  Today it begins with telling you that change can happen.  We are doing it at CHG Healthcare….why aren’t you?

Gaining Perspective

Does everything need to have a goal, a purpose, a schedule or a way it “should” happen? I would love to say it doesn’t in my life, but it wouldn’t be true.  It seems that in order to accomplish everything that I do these days, everything is scheduled and analyzed. Starting at 6am with a workout through 9pm once two kids are in bed, there is a purpose and schedule for almost every minute of my life.  After 9pm, I try to catch up on everything that didn’t meet the daytime cut which can include chilling with Jon, reading a book, blogging, cleaning up email from work, or just brainless television.  Occasionally, a girls night trumps the evening routine.

This last weekend started with me leaving work at noon on Friday – a rare treat.   Jon and I had scheduled an anniversary two night getaway at the Montage in Deer Valley Friday and Saturday night.  So, I drove up from work and we had a late lunch.  Before departing for Deer Valley, I decided to squeeze in my workout since I had missed it Friday morning.  So, I took off from our house on my mountain bike with a plan and a schedule.  I had to be back within an hour so we could take off for our relaxing weekend.  Mid-trail ride, while I stressed about the pace I was on, and whether I would make it back by our scheduled departure time while getting an adequate workout in, I stopped and took the picture above….and took a deep breath.

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Who was I racing?  Why did I feel like I had a scheduled departure time for our “relaxing” staycation that had no start time?  Why did I feel like if I didn’t ride the trail I set out to ride, I wasn’t getting “enough” exercise?  Wow.  Perspective needed.

It all worked out.  I took a left-turn on my ride, where I was supposed to go straight.  I looked up while I was riding my bike and took in the early fall leaves instead of focusing on my handlebars.  Ultimately, I went “late” to my relaxing anniversary weekend and everything was fine.  My daily reality is that I put undue stress and pressure on myself because I think the only way to accomplish my schedule is through perfection.  Not true.  Releasing the pressure made me enjoy things more.

Tonight I am as relaxed as I have been in a long time.  After living through a weekend with no schedule and a lot of fun, I have realized I need to let go more.  I need to live with less rules, and less expectations of myself.  From here, my challenge is to continue this perspective by trying my best not to have a schedule that makes me lose this perspective.