I had two opportunities to experience unconscious gender bias this week. A bike mechanic and a chimneysweep each looked through me (the paying customer) to a male companion. This bias I call “presumed vs. earned credibility.”
I got weepy when Hillary Clinton locked up the nomination for president, not for political reasons but because it is historical. I celebrate what it says about the progress of women and what it does to our images of leadership.
Deaf, Blind, Biased – or Stumped? Why Leaders Don’t Respond to the Business Case for Gender Diversity
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.
McKinsey has concluded that it will take 25 years to reach “gender parity” at the senior VP level and more than 100 years to reach parity in the C-suite. Is “parity” realistic and attainable even in a century? I don’t think so. Even if we could magically eliminate all unconscious gender bias, other factors would make parity unlikely. There are key reasons other than bias – like free choice. I will continue to help eliminate bias so choice is truly free.
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!