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!
I don’t see gender diversity in leadership as fitting into Corporate Social Responsibility. I see gender diversity less as a moral or social issue, and more as a business or economic issue. There are, however, links between gender and CSR. Who do you think influences their companies – and their fathers—to commit more to CSR?
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.
I periodically update the research that forms the business case for gender balance at the leadership level. Here is my latest update. I review studies showing the business benefit of diversity and inclusion generally. Gender diversity brings all these benefits and more.
One pillar of the business case for gender diversity in business leadership is its correlation with better financial results. Studies by Catalyst and McKinsey show strong correlations between gender diversity in senior leadership and on boards — and improved financial metrics. There are contrary studies related to board composition – showing no correlation or negative correlation. I hope researchers will help us sort through the differences. Meanwhile, I’ll say, ““Solid research by highly respected organizations, disputed by some, shows a correlation between gender diversity and results.”