Tolerance beats intolerance, but it is merely “putting up with.” We must move to valuing and appreciating difference – not tolerating it.
The adage is that two heads are better than one. Collaborating with my colleague to write a proposal reminded me of this. The research shows how and why diverse groups make better decisions, get better outcomes and create more innovation than homogeneous groups. Working with someone who thinks differently than I is harder than working alone or with someone who always agrees with me. But it is worth it!
Men in my workshops used to hesitate to claim feminine strengths, perhaps concerned they would be called a “sissy.” In my book and workshops, I use prototypes for masculine and feminine – Max and Fran. Men in our workshops seem comfortable acknowledging their “Fran” strengths. Maybe it is because more of them understand the value of gender diversity. Some may be convinced, e.g., by the work of McKinsey & Co. and John Gerzema, that leadership must include feminine as well as masculine perspectives. Valuing feminine strengths personally enables authenticity, effectiveness and health. Valuing feminine strengths in others contributes to inclusivity, which drives engagement and results.
Being different (in gender) from my peers, I got a taste of how this affects one’s energy. When I got involved in diversity initiatives, I understood how much energy people put into “fitting in.” This is energy that could be redirected to the quantity and quality of work. An inclusive culture gets better results because more people feel valued!
Better decisions really do come from diverse groups. The comfort of being with those like ourselves makes us pay attention less; having even one person who is different from the group norm makes people process information more carefully. There is more creativity and innovation, and outcomes are better and more sustainable.
Reactions to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in the Atlantic have included that neither men nor women can “have it all.” This is now an issue for men as well as women so it is more important for employers to implement the changes suggested in the Slaughter article. Not only will those changes benefit men and women, they will help employers retain women, who suffer the most from the “have it all” issue. But employers must also create inclusive cultures that allow women as well as men to feel valued and included. Such a culture helps a woman handle the juggling of career and family and allows more women to reach the top. This enables employers to reap the benefits of gender diversity in leadership.