Everyone knows that having women on a company’s board of directors is good for the company’s bottom line. Research shows that a critical mass of THREE women results in better corporate governance. Less likely to feel like an outsider, a woman is more likely to speak up and be heard when she is one of three. Good decisions and good results follow from a balance of feminine and masculine strengths. Knowing this, leaders should not be satisfied with one (token) woman. Yet a new study shows that, at the executive level, most companies have just one woman. They have “checked the box.” With only one woman, they may miss out on the value of true gender diversity.
After the negativity of the Weinstein mess and the volume of women reporting harassment through the #MeToo movement, let’s look at some good news for women in business.
The bronze statue of a young girl facing the Wall Street Bull will continue to provoke big firms to include more women on boards. It isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.
What is standing in the way of reaching the goal of gender diversity in leadership? Women’s can’t get off the hook. I’m talking about how women treat and support each other. Have you seen women not be supportive of other women? Have you seen a woman undermine another woman?. Have you seen women who made it to the top and then “pulled up the ladder”? Have you seen “cattiness,” “back-biting,” or “sabotage”? What mind-sets underlie this negative behavior? Can awareness help us change them?
Rich and I delivered a well-received workshop at the third annual WILD Summit (Women Inspiring Leadership Development from the Women’s Council of the Leeds School of Business at CU). We framed as choice (the conference theme) the ability to value and leverage both masculine and feminine strengths. We demonstrated that being able to choose which is most effective in a particular situation is an important career skill. Appreciating both approaches makes one a better and more inclusive leader; the result is broader team engagement, leading to better results. We tackled the subject of how masculine-feminine differences run up against unconscious biases or mindsets, creating obstacles for women in business – and, therefore, gender diversity.