The business case for gender diversity in leadership is compelling. I’ve updated it to include (more) recent studies linking diversity and financial performance.
I am adding to my pile of studies showing that gender bias is real. This one shows that male biology students over-rated their male colleagues and under-estimated better performing women. This goes in the stack with Heidi vs Howard and Kristen Schilt’s work with 54 transgendered men. Do you know people who still question the existence of gender bias? Share these studies with them. Awareness of our biases is the first step in changing 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.
I need to take my own advice. My mission is to make gender diversity in business leadership a reality. Doing that requires creating inclusive workplace cultures that value both masculine and feminine ways of working and leading. Since more women than men demonstrate feminine styles, women will benefit from such a culture. Valuing both makes individuals more effective, creates greater inclusion and engagement and lowers obstacles to gender diversity. As a former attorney and corporate executive, I demonstrate many masculine strengths. I am working on honoring the feminine aspects of myself!
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.
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.