It concerns me that, in the corporate workplace, women and men conform to the masculine model. If we all do that, first, we lose ourselves and become less authentic. Equally important, we perpetuate and ratchet up the imbalance we have in terms of masculine and feminine in the world of work (and the world generally). I don’t want women to become “men” in order to succeed. And I don’t want men becoming more masculine in order to fit in and feel respected. I want men and women to discover the strengths of feminine as well as masculine ways of working and leading.
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.
My difference (gender) from the norm at the top of my corporation made me sensitive to diversity issues. In participating in diversity programs and training, I saw how much energy goes into trying to fit in. That lost energy costs creativity and quality. In an inclusive culture, where people feel heard and valued, engagement is higher. Inclusion and engagement drive productivity, innovation and results.
My son gave me a testimonial about how applying the principles of DifferenceWORKS may have saved a business. We often present those principles – appreciating rather than judging differences – to a situation involving one person who operates in a masculine way and another who demonstrates more feminine tendencies. His story involved two masculine men. Rather than strangle his business partner, my son recognized that his colleague was not wrong or defective, just different – and had strengths that were different but important.
Organizational diversity exists when there are different “cultural profiles” within the organization. “Culture” refers to values and ways of a certain geography; there are “subsets of culture” and many combinations of these subsets. I provide an instrument that demonstrates the many kinds of difference. Use it to assess your person cultural profile, which profiles are dominant in your organization and the level of organizational diversity. The assessment helps you consider who is “different” from those in power or in the majority. It can help you see what needs to be done to leverage the benefits of diversity — to create an inclusive culture with deep and broad engagement.
I recently traveled to Turkey and saw a living (actually NOT living) example of how importance diversity is. At the formation of the country of Turkey, there was a “population exchange” between Greece and Turkey. Christians were sent to Greece; Muslims were sent to Turkey. Christians and Muslims had lived peacefully together for generations. Towns lost the diversity in their populations. And, as a result, towns died. Difference works! It does not work to eliminate difference. The town of Kayakoy is a memorial to the importance of difference.