By Natasha Hatherall Shawe, CEO of TishTash Communications
As the Barbie movie hits the UAE screens after what feels like an eternity after the rest of the world, there’s not a comms pro in the business who will have missed the frenzy. But it’s not just about the immaculate publicity campaign and brand collaborations, it’s more about the true star of the movie - Ken.
Possibly the word of the season - what is ‘ Kenergy’ and how can you spot it, and grow with it in the workplace? Movie Director, Greta Gerwig, discussed the meaning of Kenergy, with Gerwig suggesting it represents men who support women with confidence and openness. It’s certainly open to interpretation, but as a character who is defined by his role as ‘just Ken’ to Barbie’s ‘everything’, and if we see the film as somewhat of a feminist manifesto, what does the idea of masculine and feminine traits in the workplace really mean? And crucially, by just ‘being Ken’ has he written his own manifesto to that crucial work/life balance?
Kenergy and the Balance
In Greta Gerwig’s film being a beach bum is no bad thing. In the Barbie world, Ken has no dream house and no car, but he does have a beach. He is Beach Ken, and the Barbies encourage and respect this role in their society. Considering that Kenergy focuses on moments of 'doing nothing' and attaining a balance between leisure activities, a notion frequently attributed to Generation Z's aspirations, could we also adopt this concept within our work setting?
The communications industry is the definition of ‘hustle’ - but there’s a lesson in Kenergy here for all of us. Intense work and deadlines leave us with a strong need to take a break. Ken’s ‘beach’ job resonant with many of us who feel a need to break away, to stop and just ‘be’ for a while.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Learning how to switch off and relax can feel as difficult as those intense days but it is vital. It’s not a new insight to suggest that those moments of clarity, and indeed, best ideas come from laying on a sun lounger, that brisk dawn walk or a change of environment even a daycation brings. Communication professionals understand this well. They know where and when they work best, even if there are deadlines. Figuring out the best places to be for the greatest results doesn't always mean sitting at a desk or being in a Teams meeting.
I’m not advocating we all don neon rollerblades and work from the Padel court all week, but if your company culture is not considering the work/life balance of your employees, 2023, and Ken, have no time for it. Happy staff do great work - it’s that simple. See what a little Kenergy can do for your agency's productivity.
The Role of Men in the Workplace
There is nowhere quite like the UAE for supporting the needs of women in the workplace. The revolution is happening, whether you are yet on board or not. The recognition of support post-pandemic is growing, especially given that women left the workforce in large numbers for valid reasons. Whilst we all still have a long way to go, the idea of men as ‘allies’ for their female counterparts is vital.
That said, globally a cultural shift is definitely happening as a consequence and the boot can well be on the other foot. Whilst men have traditionally been seen as leaders, it is natural that they may have come to feel side-lined or even confused about their role in society as a whole, watching women make such huge strides in professional parity.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Parity is the keyword here. Gendered stereotypes have dictated that it is the woman's role to ‘support’ Kenergy has certainly flipped that on its head, parody style, in the Barbie movie, but we need to embrace the benefits of both masculine and feminine leadership traits and use all for the advantage of all. Feeling valued for what we bring to a table, whatever our position, again, leads to a better corporate culture and means that we truly bring our 'best selves' to work.
Ken’s loyalty towards Barbie is redemptive, but he is her perfect ally and foil. You can’t have one without the other. As we all navigate the new world order, it is time to re-evaluate what gender parity looks like in your organization - from both sides. If we embrace the essence of Kenergy - what does that look like for your ‘just beach’ job?