This year’s international women’s day theme is #balanceisbetter. I’m Libran, so balance is in my DNA. However, I dug a little deeper to find out why balance of men to women in the workplace is better. Better for you and better for the organisation’s performance.
This week, I’m organising a corporate breakfast event for International Women’s Day. I interviewed three women and a male in senior roles across male-dominated fields. Here was their resounding response to why balance is better in their corporate world:
balance of ideas and innovation
balance of opinion and ways of doing things differently
balance of customer representation and direct resonance with the customer persona
balance of opportunity to bring out the best in people
That all makes logical sense to me. But what do we mean by balance, they ask, challenging my question. Indeed, balance does not assume 50/50.
Balance is something much deeper than quotas or parity. They agreed that balance is subjective to each organisation, or industry, or team. Balance is difficult to quantify but they said that progress towards balance should be identified and measured. Programs, projects and teams which are led by women will be great initiatives to measure, as well as flexible workplace practices for all employees; working groups, interest groups and mentor programs all provide a platform to build equality and opportunity.
Communication is also highlighted as key. It’s ok to state that we all have preconceived and unconscious bias because of the environment that surrounds us. They tell me that it just needs to be overtly recognised and adjusted. For eg, hey we don’t have any females candidates put forward for this job. Why? Go back to the recruiter and ask them to cast the net out wider. And if there are some women considering applying but are not quite confident enough, let’s put in place some mentoring to anyone - male or female - to help them through the process. You get the idea? Identify unconscious bias and fix it.
In Nike’s latest ad “Dream Crazier” they explicitly call out this unconscious bias. The ad draws you into the discriminatory sporting landscape. However, the ad turns around with a response. It challenges its female customers to not feel defeated. Accept the bias undertow but prove it wrong through achievement. What have we got to lose? Nothing but everything to gain under the right mindset which I coin as #nobarriers in some of my previous blogs.
Let’s move to another landscape - the media. Last week the ABC shared its desire to interview more female spokespeople in its news and opinion programs. In order to achieve a closer to parity balance it has set up a register of potential talent for their interviews of which women are able self nominate and be nominated to join. This gives women the opportunity to take the stage and offer balance of ideas, opinion, representation and opportunity. But wait, there’s more. And here’s the key. They say:
For women who have never participated in a media interview or written an op-ed before and feel nervous or unsure, please don’t be discouraged from nominating. All nominees contacted by the ABC’s experienced interview producers and talent bookers will be guided and supported through the process.
I’m really proud to see Ita Buttrose take the helm as ABC Chair and you can be assured that she will not put up with any unconscious bias from her board, given her history of success working under the Packers.
However, we won’t have many women in Chair or CEO roles just yet. Men in current CEO roles need to listen and take notice to this new mindset of balance. In a stand up comedy show, Hannah Gadsby said that white males have a lot of power in this world and it’s up to them to promote equality and equal opportunity. Some are threatened by this prospect, knowing that a bit more competition could expose them, warts and all. For others, who genuinely care about shareholders and the organisation’s performance and not their own hip pocket, they are already listening to the benefits of balance. My advice is to seek them out and go work for them. Just do it.
Now, for all you Facebook fanatics, I will be recording a Live Facebook feed from my International Women’s Day event. Click going here: https://www.facebook.com/events/267076654213742/?ti=ia
Until then, please share your thoughts on this topic in my comments section below or via my social media post for this blog. I want to hear your opinion, both male and female as I prepare for this exclusive interview!
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