In this guest post, consultant and gender advocate, Bec Brideson (main photo), says that business’ “new world order” means gender diversity which also translates to enormous opportunity for those prepared to take-up the challenge…
The world is in a state of acceleration, transformation and high-tension all at once. A loss of trust in government has fallen upon business to claim while emerging economies are thriving. The old balance of power is shifting its weight. And with that comes a deepening need for business to echo the ‘new world order’. In an increasingly globalised society demanding better and better, and more and more – new business approaches have emerged to meet this need such as the Agile Method and Design Principles.
The problem with these dazzling new methodologies is that they are only as good as the culture that upholds them. While the likes of Uber, Facebook and Google are at the forefront of NWO technology and innovation; they have suffered increasingly from a lack of internal culture buy-in and female talent retention.
Recently BI reported that US Deloitte’s arm diverted from their usual D&I strategy in order to address the lack of a cultural shift. Rather than continuing segregating ‘outsiders’ into support groups, their strategy has been to mandate ‘insiders’ involvement, from top to bottom, in outsider conversations. Deloitte has chosen to create councils of inclusion instead of districts of diversity.
This is new world order thinking that drives assured future success. Business cultures that mirror and move in tandem with the global zeitgeist will profit from uncovering insights and leveraging unexplored opportunities.
Gender is a water-cooler favourite presently – from sexuality to politics to culture to business. Yet gender remains a topic misunderstood, a fortuity untapped, and lacking in a surefire method for approach – until now.
It’s no one’s fault. Old world business thinking has dominated our new world rendering of gender. Centuries ago, men built the business environment because they worked outside the home, where traditionally women stayed in the home and cared for the family. Logic follows that business has been built upon both the hefty back and framed perspective of ‘male’. The intrinsic lens still remains: from business structures and operations, to the way our hierarchies manifest and the flow on effect in its delivery to external audiences.
When anti-discrimination laws came into being it was to ensure genders were treated as ‘equals’. What this well-meaning industrial law has done however is to blur another kind of focus in its reductive approach that does away with all kinds of ‘difference’. The irony of such equality is that in an effort to improve our understanding and provide better service and delivery to our customers; this homogenization of what is ‘male’ and ‘female’ has stifled innovation and competitive edge.
Gender differences therefore should be seen (not stereotyped or biased); and treated as a nuanced opportunity to improve business outcomes and expand business culture. For example, does the gender of your internal culture mirror your external audience? Modern woman is now out of the home, working ‘two shifts’ – in the workplace and yet still responsible for the majority of the domestic roles and discretionary purchases. As a result, she’s grown her economic might and financial influence. E&Y predict that women will be responsible for 75% of household discretionary spend by 2028.
Course-correction is needed; however not one that disparages or destroys the legacy of business built on the backs of men. Instead one that includes her needs, her contributions and innovations that she is now bringing to bear – her female lens.
Female-lensed vision is not to be confused with hiring more female staff nor the overthrow of the patriarchy. The distinction of a female-lens builds upon the maxim that we can create better connection and empathy when we ‘walk in her/his/their shoes’. Either sex can learn to see through and utilize the lens of either gender, and should.
True gender intelligence is the ability to acknowledge, hear, and adapt gender differences and utilize them as a powerful business advantage when embedded in a company’s culture. New world business demands business that reflects new economic and social realities such as that of the rise of the new female economy.
New world thinkers are smart, not discriminating, and will be keen to look through both different lenses to view the entire depth of frame. Women not only represent a massive cultural and economic shift, but one we can use to leverage new opportunities for growth that are beyond exponential.