The other day I was accused of blaming women for their lack of progress in organisational life. I was taken to task for pointing out women’s lack of confidence as a barrier because it suggested that women were inadequate, should just pull their socks up and get on with it. In case this is a shared perception, I’d like to set the record straight.
Organisations have not changed much since the industrial age. They were created by men for men and reward the practices and behaviours of men. The consequence of this is that women are easily marginalised and overlooked and too many become confused and think it’s because they’re inferior.
It is up to our leaders – women and men, to lead cultural change. This means they must hold a mirror up to their own behaviour and practices, identify what they’re doing to prevent women’s full and equal opportunity across all levels of their organisation, modify these practices and behaviours and then hold all employees accountable for doing the same.
Until that happens, nothing will change.
Since the numbers of women have barely budged over the last decade, clearly our leaders see no compelling reason to change their behaviour and drive this change. This means the status quo continues.
Women do not need to accept the status quo. However I meet women every day who have become numb to their environment, do not recognise the organisational and gender dynamics that work against them and may be responding in ways that continue to render them powerless or ineffective.
My goal is to normalise what I hear and see, to provide women with a mirror to help them recognise the environment they’re in, how they may be responding in that environment and to provide them with opportunities to respond differently.
We too often collude in the creation of a dynamic that keeps us feeling inferior. That is not helpful, we can do something about it. So let’s do it.