Gender diversity and other uncomfortable topics on differences

I had to think twice before writing this blog post. I did not want to create any debate about the topics I am covering today because there are already plenty of places for discussions. Nowadays, we consider diversity in companies as a very important and urgent topic to be dealt with. We also forget that Rome was not built in one day. Things need to change before people from the diversity groups have equal chances to become part of the top-management. Most of the time mindsets have to be changed.

If we go back in history and have a look at the first companies in the industrial age. Those that we call diversity (any person who is not a white man in good health) did not have a voice or were not expected to use theirs. Basically, the European and American corporations were built by men for men. Slowly for many reasons those in the diversity groups gained power over their own fate. They acquired, for example, the right to vote, to get married to whom ever they wanted (still in process in some countries) and also the right to work. They slowly accessed to the corporate world.

The thing is, when you stay among people who look like you, speak like you and think like you, you end up developing group behavior and rules. Those preferred behavior are visible in communication , leadership and even strategic management.  The people outside the group cannot really fit in even if some efforts are made because they do not have the "cultural background" to evolve or they are simply let apart by the main stream group. When diversity groups are included in men made companies they bring other perspectives and ideas that make the team and company more productive and effective. You cannot exclude more than half of the population for too long.

A study made in 2014 by Mckinsey showed that men did not recognize the hardship women have to face when trying to access top-level positions. It is probably true for other diversity groups. I guess it caused by the fact that men do not realize that the system they work in is dominated by masculine rules. A woman having a child will have less chances to get a promotion because companies were not built considering this situation. I do believe that we can work together to create more diversified organizations which answer demands from a much wider customer base.

We know that gender, skin color, sexual orientation and belief do not influence our capacity to succeed and contribute to the betterment of the world. On the opposite being so different from one another gives us a chance to better understand what is going on.  Like every change "diversity" will take some time to get integrated in the corporate world but we are on the right track.

In order to go further we should as suggested by the McKinsey survey:
  • Encourage and increase sponsorship
  • Diversify performance models
I would also add that all men in organization have friends and relatives who belong to the so called diversity groups. We have to work all together to empower each other and share our knowledge and competences to thrive together in our organizations. In the coming years, we should encourage collaborations. We all have many things to learn from each other and diversity management is one way to achieve it.

Source: Moving mind-sets on gender diversity, McKinsey Global Survey Results

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