International Women’s Day this year felt less like noise for me and more like a tsunami of women’s voices preparing to completely transform every level of every industry in its path. The drive toward gender equality is the evolution of business, but the path to success is not paved with a scattering of token women expected to adopt masculine principles.
The point of gender equality is to embrace natural feminine attributes to balance the male attributes that dominate most organizations today: compassion over hostility, open communication over back-room deals, collaboration over competition, and community over individualism. There is a largely untapped market of possibility to be realized by increasing female representation to a tipping point in the board room and at executive levels. At times I wonder if women are the only ones paying attention to the plethora of diversity and gender equality material being published, but then I see a high-tech company like Cisco walking the talk with 36% women at both the board and senior executive levels, and I’m hopeful that this much needed change isn’t going to take the predicted one hundred years to happen.
Cisco isn’t alone. There are many progressive companies educating their teams to prevent gender bias, disrupting the status quo to achieve gender equality, and implementing zero-tolerance sexual harassment policies that encourage women to stay in male-dominated fields. According to a Catalyst.org study, women are leaving STEM fields at the alarming rate of 53% globally and their reasons for leaving have little to do with their capabilities. This begs the question, ‘what needs to change to encourage women to stay so we can benefit from the value gender equality is proven to produce?’.
Women are the authority on the value women bring to the table. We can’t wait another hundred years to realize the benefit of gender equality. And, as Einstein quoted: ‘We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them’. We don’t know what we don’t know, but by actively driving toward equality, we will witness the next wave of growth and innovation. It is not only going to come from the millennials; it is also going to come from embracing feminine ideals. Are you ready for the future?