The NBA is LeaningIn

My recent blog post started a great discussion on my Facebook Pages – thank you to all those that contributed! A friend of mine brought up the position the NBA is taking with the LeanIn movement. They are getting involved with a campaign that has quite a few worthy objectives – one of which is encouraging couples to be 50/50 in their partnership. They offer some great advice and have included a service that will text you tips to your phone through the week so couples can strengthen their support of one another. Players such as LeBron James and Russel Westbrook are getting involved with the and NBA collaborative. What are some of the highlights of the NBA LeaningIn?

  1. Communicate Openly – Stats show that women are interrupted more than men, so male partners need to ensure that they are giving female partners the space and time to speak.
  2. Make Decisions as a Team – With over 50% of millennial men believing their careers will take priority over their female partners, there is already an uneven playing field around couples’ goals and expectations.
  3. Do Your Share at Home – only 9% (yes, that low) of two-income households say that they share the household chores evenly, even when the females are the breadwinners! Male partners, do your part at home, it makes everyone happier = more sex… Hey-o!
  4. Encourage your Partner to LeanIn – Women struggle to negotiate (4 times less likely to than men actually), so by encouraging female partners to do so means more money, more promotions, and better self-confidence. This is when role playing at home in order to practice helps.
  5. Model Equality – Breakdown gender stereotypes for your children and communicate the wide range of values both parents find important. Teaching your children to express feelings and speak up for themselves will lead to healthier little ones which can only make the world a better place, right?!

Russel Westbrook NBA


The campaign does a big focus on home life, being a strong partner and being a better dad, however, it doesn’t stop there. It goes on to clearly state simple action items men can do to support women leaning in, in the workplace. It made me sad to read them actually. I know we are still back at baby steps here and it does not make it an easier pill to swallow. Some of the tips?

  1. To challenge the “likability penalty” women suffer – you know, the Sophie’s Choice of do I show my strength and competency OR have people like me? How can men support women breaking through this? When a man hears that someone is calling a woman ‘bossy’ or ‘shrill’, he can ask for specific examples and they question if it would be the case if a man did it.
  2. Give women credit – I am getting sadder by the sentence…
  3. Evaluate performance fairly – did you know that if you change the name on a resume from a woman’s to a man’s the hire-ability rate immediately goes up 61%. Yup, crying now.
  4. Share the office housekeeping – When women fail to help they drop 14% lower in favourability over men and if a man helps out with these tasks his favourability goes up 12% higher over a woman’s who does the same thing. Oy vey. That is a case of damned if you do and even more damned if you don’t!

LeBron James NBA

I know that these tips and suggestions have a goal to create more equality in the home and in the workplace. Something about it really bums me out. They are such small things, like letting women speak and consider their ideas at home and at work and don’t have them clean your office because it should not be a social expectation. The NBA is a big brand and I am hoping it has the impact to inch us forward toward equality at home and at work. Hell, we need it! In Canada, over the last 40 years women to men wages went up from 77 cents to the dollar in 1977 to 82 cents to the dollar in 2015. 5 cents! In 40 years! Even the cost of Heinz ketchup went up 2632% over the same time period.

These steps are important, they just feel so damn small! Thank you to the men that see women as equals. Thank you to the husbands and male partners that are great dads and good husbands and kind citizens of their communities. Pass on your pearls of wisdom to everyone that will listen.

I appreciate that this is predominantly based on heterosexual relationships. I am not NOT acknowledging the complications that happen in same sex relationships, hell I know all about those! This campaign is founded on the male social positions relative to females. I will be discussing same sex relationships as well on the site.

I would love to hear how you feel about this campaign and the whole LeanIn movement. How do you think it will make a difference?

Closing thoughts by my wife (an avid and passionate basketball player, coach & fan):

I feel that this campaign propagates a heteronormative culture. While it takes very tiny steps forward for women, it takes a giant step back when we consider the many types of relationships and marriages that now exist. I fear that this will cause some inherent shaming for male athletes that are openly gay, or thinking about coming out.

Interestingly, after she was done passionately speaking about the issue, she considered reneging on the quote to not seem like ‘an angry lesbian’ or ‘too intense’. Perfect example. Mic drop, I’m out.

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