Gender Diversity

By Star Young

Melanie and I attended the conference  “Conversations with Men On Wall St & Finance: Engaging Men in Moving Women Up."  The event is part of series of programs that IMPACT 21 launched with a global goal of gender-balanced leadership at the top. (aka, more women executives)

The evening started with a panel discussion of three male executives from top financial institutions, one of which was from Barclays, which is one of our strategic partners. The panel was asked why women are still lagging in executive leadership positions. Though at first slightly weary to address the topic in a dominantly female audience, the brave men shared their perspectives. 

  1. Men are tribal.  Men look for packs to travel in and they look for the most successful group that they can join.  If in the right tribe, it gives them the inner circle advantage as members grow in responsibility, as well as ascend up the ladder.  Women rarely have that inner circle advantage.
  2. Men have professional and social rites of passage as part of an initiation into the tribe that can be difficult for women to attain.  An example is that gender difference can’t be won on the golf course -- for one woman, she actually lost points because she had beaten the men on the course.
  3. Men in tribes have a spoken and unspoken rule to never publicly criticize a fellow man, even if they deserve it.  Instead, as part of the code, each man should look for opportunities to praise or recommend fellow clan members.
  4. Women don’t travel in tribes. In fact, women generally appear more competitive with other women and even openly criticize their female counterparts. Rarely do women praise other women personally or corporately.
  5. Men get ahead through a type of attrition as women tend to leave when they hit the glass ceiling or fail to penetrate the inner circle, so they move on to search for other opportunities.

I think they pretty much summed up the dominant landscape and issues of gender diversity, mostly with insight we already knew, but nice to have the men confirm it.  The generic “work harder”, “smarter”, “ask for what you want,” “find your niche” suggestions are all relevant and worthwhile for any employee and climbing executive. Still, what is it that will drive catalytic change of paradigms in the C suite and below for gender diversity?

I shared my belief that a business or corporation is not a living, breathing entity but rather a reflection of priorities and energy of the people that build and run it. Philosophies and business practices are driven top down.  Leaders drive the message.  The message drives the results.  We have to change the message.

That change of message is also extended to the media.  Ninety percent of the messages in the media reflect an image that is sexualized.  Here is a link of an Addy award winning campaign for Dove that demonstrates the message about , and to women in a typical year:

It was a great start but we were ready for the deep dive, a look behind the curtain of Oz.  Impact CEO Janet Salazar delivered it in a deeper discussion with Mike Paul, aka “The Reputation Doctor”, under the topic of, “The Boys Club, getting down to the core of Female leadership Challenges on Wall Street and Finance.”  

Mike’s candor opened the door for a couple of other men to share honest and open dialogue about the complicated relationships between men and women.  Inherently, each man and woman brings their history and experiences with the opposite sex from relationships starting with fathers, mothers, family, and social dynamics.  One man offered what he called one of the real reasons. “Fear. Sometimes, men are just afraid of women based on past experiences.”  Honest. 

Finally Mike asked, “How can we treat women with respect in the office if we just took our ‘boys’ to the strip club and treated women like a piece of meat.”  Poignant.  

Now you know why this is our Sexuality blog. Men, the media, it all plays into our sexuality.

At the end of the conference everyone was asked to contribute in any way that they can personally effect change.  One way is to sign the United Nation’s global petition "HeForShe". Now it’s time to unify our efforts. HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings one half of humanity together in support of the other half of humanity, for the benefit of all.  Please take action on the link below, it’s quick and easy to add your voice.

Thank you to Janet and Impact for starting the conversation.  Let’s keep it going. If we figure out how to work together, we just might be able to have world peace.

So, how do men and women work together, as we are all sexual beings?  Now you know another reason why Women to Women by Julia has a silo on sexuality.  Sexuality is the core of men and women because it is how God made us.  Sexuality is a primal, tribal and a sustaining part of life.  We have to learn to deal with it in a healthy, honest, and positive manner in all of life’s roles, including the office. 

Star Young is an entrepreneur and Fortune 500 award winning executive.  Ms.Young is a certified excellence coach and a trained facilitator of Edward Deming Continuous Improvement.  In addition, she has been a talent for CBS syndicated programming, as well as a co- founder of the Beauty Spot and author of Smart Girlfriends Guide series.