Why might the message about the value of diversity not be heard? Why might leaders hear it but not buy it? Why do men who do buy it not take effective action? These are not rhetorical questions. I have some ideas but I want your thoughts.
Unconscious gender bias is the root cause of business’ slow progress in capturing the business benefits of gender diversity. Having unconscious bias is simply human as Shankar Vedantam shows in his book “The Hidden Brain.” It is hard to change ways we aren’t even aware we have been wired, taught or acculturated to think. Our approach starts with helping people understand and appreciate both masculine and feminine strengths – in men and women.
A recent conversation brought to mind how people are missing the mark in trying to achieve gender diversity in leadership. I heard more about (a) how people understand the business value of gender diversity, (b) they don’t know how to get it, and (c) they are still trying to “fix” women instead of eliminating the barriers to gender diversity. How can we shift the focus from “fixing women” to bringing awareness to unconscious gender biases?
Yes, there is progress in seeing more women at leadership levels in business; but the pace remains glacial. We need to understand the reasons at the deepest level – so we can pick up the pace and capture the known benefits. I was invited to post a blog on the London School of Economics Business Review. I used the opportunity to express my thoughts on the root cause. I hope you’ll read it!
Recently at the end of a workshop, a participant said he understood that people, women particularly, need to shift to a masculine style to succeed. Than he asked, “We want workplace culture itself to shift and become more balanced, right?” He had summed up the purpose of my work. I want a world where masculine and feminine ways are modeled in leadership and valued in business cultures.
Happy holidays from DifferenceWORKS! In the news today is so much about division, hatred and violence – between whites and blacks, have’s and have-not’s, Republicans and Democrats, and people of different faiths or religious beliefs. Difference does work. Diversity and inclusion drive better decisions and better bottom lines. We need our differences. Wouldn’t it be nice to love them?