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.
Common sense — and studies — confirm that engaged people do better work and are more likely to stay. Engagement is linked with retention, productivity and profitability. Feeling different — like an “outsider” — can undermine engagement.Spending energy figuring out the rules and fitting in takes energy away from quality and efficiency. In today’s diverse workforce, leaders cannot engage everyone the same. Leaders must understand and appreciate difference to have broad engagement.
There is a compelling business case for gender diversity and inclusion. Yet women still aren’t proportionally represented at higher levels of business. Where do they go? They go to another employer, disengage and quit climbing or start their own businesses. The causes are both “push factors” and “pull factors.” While women’s role in the family is an important push factor, businesses should focus on push factors, including “invisible mind-sets” that cause women to disengage or leave. The root causes of these push factors are the “comfort principle” and “unconscious preferences.” Understanding the causes of disengagement can enable the solution, which includes bringing to conscious awareness those invisible mind-sets.