For example, she is:
- “too aggressive, too shy, too abrasive.”
- “not serious about her career.”
- “too detail oriented.”
- “not a good fit.”
- “too unreliable, slow, too loud, too cautious.”
- “doesn’t have good interpersonal skills.”
Assessments about women’s commitment, abilities and performance are more often tied to demonstrated observance of cultural rituals than other more objective tests.
That is, women are judged against criteria that are grounded in individual and cultural bias. So when women exhibit what in a man would be judged as leadership behaviour, they are judged as something less than, or other than, leaders.
The fact is that women are typically more qualified, more experienced and work harder than their male colleagues.
They are there, they have the capability and can do the job. They just need to be appointed!
And is this likely to happen? Not according to unsettling research that shows that a lack of a diverse representation at senior management levels is not only an indicator of existing levels of discrimination in an organisation but also a guarantor of further discrimination.
So what can we do? Let’s use the principles of strategic planning to inform our approach…
- We need a vision. Let’s be bold. What about equal representation of women and men in the top 80 ASX companies in 5 years? 40:60:80 by 2020 has a nice ring about it.
- We need a plan. Here’s one: in order to increase the number of women at the top, CEOs and Boards must appoint them. Seems pretty clear and easy.
- (This is the clincher) We need a compelling reason to change OR too much pain associated with not changing. The business case has consistently demonstrated improved performance is an outcome of more gender balanced executive teams. Clearly that’s not compelling enough. Time to change tack: we need to make it too uncomfortable for decision makers to maintain the status quo.
It’s time we spoke loudly to those that have influence. It’s time we caused some embarrassment, disquiet, shame and publicly, vocally amplified our voices, made more noise and made it too uncomfortable for decision makers to ignore.
It’s time for women and men to publicly speak up about the blatant and continuing failure of senior leaders in our organisations to appoint women to senior executive roles.
Who’s up for it?