Women slightly outnumber men in our country. Are they “minorities”? Unfortunately, yes!
I don’t see gender diversity in leadership as fitting into Corporate Social Responsibility. I see gender diversity less as a moral or social issue, and more as a business or economic issue. There are, however, links between gender and CSR. Who do you think influences their companies – and their fathers—to commit more to CSR?
Unconscious gender bias doesn’t’ appear exclusively in the corporate world. As illustrated by a true story a friend recently told me, it resides in small business, too. Our unconscious (and gendered) images of leadership are everywhere. In a family business, a woman who had worked for years was passed over when the founder retired — by a much less experienced, but male, relative. How can we broaden our “pictures” of leadership?
In many parts of the world, women’s voices are suppressed. In our western culture, in particular in the U.S. corporate world, women’s voices are not “suppressed.” But they are often not fully heard. Why not? Let me suggest four challenges, with the hope that awareness can help us better hear women’s voices right here in the USA. The feminine style of speech sounds less confident. Women assert themselves only when they really know. Women get “talked over.” And women who do speak up face the “double bind.”
I am out to expose and eradicate anything that gets in the way of women being able to reach their potential. One thing that gets in the way is “mind-sets” — often unconscious ways we think as a result of our early-life experiences. Images from the 1950’s capture ways people discounted the value of women. That thinking that may still influence the experiences of women – and give rise to obstacles like the double bind and gendered definitions of leadership.
What is standing in the way of reaching the goal of gender diversity in leadership? Women’s can’t get off the hook. I’m talking about how women treat and support each other. Have you seen women not be supportive of other women? Have you seen a woman undermine another woman?. Have you seen women who made it to the top and then “pulled up the ladder”? Have you seen “cattiness,” “back-biting,” or “sabotage”? What mind-sets underlie this negative behavior? Can awareness help us change them?