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.
Unconscious and invisible “mind-sets” explain the obstacles for women aspiring to business leadership. They explain why we still do not have gender diversity at the top. Unconscious mental images of how leaders look and act can create barriers for those who do not “look the part.” Leaders who are aware of this natural tendency can stop automatic thinking and look at a person’s results rather than whether they fit the image. Those affected by unconscious images can avoid violating norms of appearance at work; be sure the boss knows their skills and results; and collaborate with others to talk about successes.
There are three unconscious “mind-sets” that give rise to obstacles for women in business. They are the double bind, the comfort principle and unconscious images of leadership. We all have both masculine and feminine ways; we call that being “Frax”–a blend of the prototype of the masculine (Max) and the prototype of the feminine (Fran). Being “Frax-wise” is being “gender intelligent.” Frax-wise leaders are conscious of the mind-sets that create barriers and so work to lower them.
The prototypical masculine world view and feminine world view are different. The masculine sees things hierarchically. The feminine sees things in terms of relationships. One “driver” of differences in behavior is the differences in thinking. The male brain is wired for focus and linear thinking. The female brain is wired to gather and synthesize.The reason better decisions come from gender-diverse groups is because of the balance of these two ways of thinking. We need both!
To avoid stereotyping, I use a prototype named Fran to describe feminine approaches to work and a prototype named Max to represent masculine approaches. All of us are both Fran and Max; we are “Frax.” A person who understands and appreciates both approaches can be “Frax-wise. in the sphere of personal effectiveness, a Frax-wise individual can shift his or her approach depending on the circumstance. In the sphere of relationships — working with and leading others — being Frax-wise enables one to appreciate and leverage difference, increasing engagement. In the sphere of organization, Frax-wise leaders understand how differences in Fran and Max create obstacles to gender diversity — and eliminate them.