This week has seen two significant events in the role of women in the workplace, namely the acceptance of women as Bishops and the increased number of women in the cabinet.
Women’s role in management is something I spoke about at a conference with the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. My passion for women and equality though isn’t driven by a desire to be equal to male counterparts but by celebrating diversity.
For the purpose of context let’s look at the differences between men and women. Essentially it comes down to one chromosome of DNA. That’s actually very similar in DNA terms. We share 95% of our DNA with a banana* though so maybe one chromosome is significant. Research has shown differences in the way male and female brains process information but are these differences distinguishable in the workplace?
Consider psychometric profiling where we gain insights into the way individuals’ value and process information. Male or female we can be in different groups, naturally leaning towards creative or analytical process for example. All manner of profiles have their strengths and limitation dependent upon the situation.
Albert Einstein is credited as saying, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” There are many things I do not know about, have not experienced or cannot empathise with. That is the nature of life’s experience we each have a different one.
For us to judge ability in a role based on gender is, in my view limiting our options. There is much discussion on whether or not we should have quotas on women and men in certain roles, indeed this is the approach taken by David Cameron this week. As business owners and leaders we should be concerned with the skills and experiences people have in relation to the role they are carrying out.
I was surprised to learn that the previous post holder of Minister for Women had been a man. That’s was my gut reaction and he may well have carried out the role diligently and effectively. But I felt unsure that being a man he could really empathise with women. It’s not about the male / female difference though. This is more about understanding experiences.
Can someone who has always been financially successful through accident of birth understand truly the challenges faced by someone who has been born into a family who have lived for generations on limited benefits?
Does a working woman understand the needs of a working mother?
Does a single mother understand the needs of a single father?
In my experience I see each person as an individual with a unique make-up of experience, skills and insights. This is why I value celebrating diversity.
I love the idea that other people can open my eyes to a world that I was unaware of. It concerns me not if that person is a women or a man just that I may learn and understand more about the people with which I share the world.
As small business owners we often fall into the trap of thinking our customers are like us. Their motivations are the same as ours and their values and decision making follows the same path. In reality we are all unique. We will share similar experiences and challenges, seek similar solutions in some cases. Many of us will behave in ways which are consistent with others.
Understanding the diversity though is what gives us the edge in marketing and segmenting our customers, in building solutions that help our customers. The courses we offer here are varied for that exact reason. A business run by an individual may not need to look at recruiting yet but a business that has 3 people and looking for a fourth may do.
It is also why our authors do not preach a one size fits all approach but give practical guidance and encourage people to adapt the learning to their individual business. We are as people and businesses all unique.
The news on Bishops and Cabinet this week is encouraging as they hint toward a representative and diverse leadership for both the government and the church. But it is more than Man vs Women. It’s about celebrating the experiences of all and valuing individuality.
If you can really get to know your customers and what their pains are you will create a profitable and sustainable business. If your leadership represents those you are serving you will be more naturally aligned to create brilliance in your business.
*This fact was taken from a blogging site, please do not base any major life decisions on the fact you are 95% banana this has not been verified by independent research.