There are some real shining stars at the moment… Hilary Clinton is growing on me for example… even women like Angelina Jolie and Victoria Beckham are admirable in their ways… and it’s inspiring to think some women are actually having it all. Think it’s fair to say though that having a house husband or plump pay packet probably helps.
A while back there was a lot of noise about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg commenting to the media that she always left work at 5.30. This too was inspiring and I always keep an eye out for news items relating to her. Some of the headlines, like the one about her saying women should cry at work was a bit… silly?… but think the point about needing to be honest and engage directly were well made.
There has been a lot in the media over the last couple of years about gender imbalance at C-suite in organisations and whether or not quotas were needed to ensure gender balance. I even organised some surveys and panel discussions about this in my organisation. But where is all the talking getting us? Part of me objects to the idea of quotas… I am an early adopter generation of the post feminist concept that men and women were created differently but equal… and equally valued.
A few years ago now, Sheryl Sandberg also had a few words to say on this. Wonder if she still feels the same…
3 pieces of advice:
- sit at the table
- make your partner a real partner
- don’t leave before you leave
All well and good to harp on about women needing to be more confident. This too irritates me. I was at a Web Summit in Dublin recently where maybe 10% of participants were women and they had a special leader’s lunch for women in business… same old same old from the panel… ‘be more confident’… yawn! this is an easy and rather superficial response… and it was held offsite at a separate venue with only women participants. Surely men need to be made more aware of the issues.
They started a mentoring programme for women in my organisation and a few women refused to participate on the grounds that it made them feel somehow singled out… ‘weak’ or ‘incompetent’… and argued that it was men who needed the mentoring to better understand, value and support women in the workforce. Can’t argue with that really, can you?
The worst culprits in my view, though, if fingers are to be pointed, of disempowering women are actually women. We do not help ourselves. There are few women I’ve met in senior positions now, mostly over 50, who do not fear the younger women overtaking them, who have built their careers from the early 80s with their shoulder pads and pant suits by being equal and the same as men… who have put career ahead of family… and who exhibit a very macho and masculine leadership style and use language that speaks to this… focussed on targets and outputs where a more feminine leadership style might take a more collaborative approach, focussing more on getting the process right in order to achieve the desired outcome…
Even with women at C-suite it can still be largely ‘masculine’ so gender balance for me is less about sex and more about getting the balance right between the feminine and masculine leadership, the ying and yang… it’s about behaviours and values.
And on that note… another inspiring woman… who also spoke in Dublin…on redressing the balance… in the bedroom…