Rich and I delivered a well-received workshop at the third annual WILD Summit (Women Inspiring Leadership Development from the Women’s Council of the Leeds School of Business at CU). We framed as choice (the conference theme) the ability to value and leverage both masculine and feminine strengths. We demonstrated that being able to choose which is most effective in a particular situation is an important career skill. Appreciating both approaches makes one a better and more inclusive leader; the result is broader team engagement, leading to better results. We tackled the subject of how masculine-feminine differences run up against unconscious biases or mindsets, creating obstacles for women in business – and, therefore, gender diversity.
Our diversity training programs and my blogs focus on gender diversity in the workplace, specifically at the leadership levels of business. This issue, while important, is the tip of the iceberg. There are more serious issues that I think are related. Women are under-represented and under-compensated not only in business but in educational, government, medical, military and non-profit workplaces. While business women are economically self-sufficient, many women live in poverty. Women are the victim of domestic and sexual violence across the globe. Are there common attitudes about women that underlie all of these issues?
One of the mindsets that create obstacles for women in the workplace is “unconscious images.” We have mental pictures of how leadership looks and what women want and can do. In our workshops, we bring this and other mindsets to conscious awareness. In the news, we see women leaders and experts, including Fortune 500 CEO’s. Lean-In.org and Getty Images have joined these efforts to broaden our images of women’s potential. They have published a gallery of 2,500 images of women and men that challenge old stereotypes.