Cupids Health

Does Anyone Remember the Film, ‘Working 9 to 5’? 



Back in 1980, there was a comedy film about working women called Working 9 to 5, do my millennials remember it? Yes, the one starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. I was just a kid when the movie came out, so while it seemed fun and humorous to me then, I had no clue what it was really about.  But I certainly get it now!  

Here’s the gist of it:  Some women working for a small company endure mental overload, harassment and discrimination in a toxic work environment. Fed up, they try to get rid of their sexist, bigoted boss. When the boss is finally “away,” the women take over running the business and come up with some extraordinary new policies that include things like equal pay for women and flexible work hours. What revolutionary concepts!  

As a result of these new changes, the company’s performance and productivity greatly increase. Eventually, the boss comes back on the scene and takes all the credit. In the end, one woman gets a promotion, but the others leave the company.   

Fast forward to present day (oh yeah, and real life). For the most part, there have been significant advancements for women in the workplace; promotions, even into the C-suite, are no longer a work of fiction. The number of women in leadership in corporate America is steadily on the rise. But as McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org’s 2021 Women in the Workplace study reveals, there is still plenty of progress that needs to be made.   

Some of the alarming—but unfortunately, unsurprising—findings that stood out to me were:   

  • 42 percent of women say they’ve felt “almost always” burned out at work this year  
  • Women of color remain tremendously underrepresented in leadership    
  • Women with disabilities are largely overlooked for raises and promotions    
  • Lesbian and bisexual women don’t feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work  
  • Black women experience more microaggressions than other groups of women     
  • Asian women are less likely than other groups of women to receive positive feedback on their leadership abilities  
  • Most white employees consider themselves allies at work, but less than half actually take allyship actions   

It’s very telling that the study even reads, “To drive change, companies need to invest deeply in all aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion…Companies also need to create a culture that fully leverages the benefits of diversity—one in which women, and all employees, feel comfortable bringing their unique ideas, perspectives, and experiences to the table.” Sounds like déjà vu to me. 

The McKinsey & Company study reminds me of why the work I get to do with Talking Talent is so important. I am encouraged when I think about the real-life stories I hear first-hand from women who, through our coaching and development programs, overcome overwhelm, progress in their careers, reprioritize their well-being, and become advocates and allies for the women who work alongside them.   

It’s going to take more time and effort and a genuine commitment to action on the part of organizations and employers globally, but I believe that if we all play our parts right, we will be in a far better place when the credits roll a year from now and the 2022 report comes out. At the very least, I hope we’re no longer mimicking 1980 comedy.  


Teresa Hopke is CEO, The Americas, Talking Talent, a global coaching firm that inspires inclusive cultures that allow people and organizations to thrive. It works with organizations globally to create company-wide behavior shifts that accelerate business performance. A working mother of four, Teresa is committed to creating a more inclusive world for her children and the organizations she serves.





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