Parity is much harder to argue against than the more vague 'diversity'
Our session specifically provided four simple takeaways:
WE HAVE FINALLY MOVED FROM ‘WHY’ TO ‘HOW’
If you are reading this and you are still unconvinced of the merits of gender parity, it is probably time to bow out of society (or move to the US, where you have a chance of a President who shares your view). You are now in the minority of educated people. And you’re wrong.
The empirical evidence of improved company and team performance is overwhelming and the cultural arguments even more powerful. This fantastic Ted talk covers all you need to know – specifically that:
• Workplaces with gender parity are more profitable;
• Workplaces with gender parity offer a better quality of life for men and women (and everyone in between); and
• Men are happier and more successful in a world with gender parity.
Still think you need more convincing? What about this from the Peterson Institute for International Economics which shows putting women in just a third of your leadership positions adds 6 per cent to your profit margin.
Or this research from the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy showing a more diverse set of employees gives businesses a more diverse and therefore valuable set of skills.
Or the many others.
MEN ARE CRITICAL FOR THE ‘HOW’
Even those convinced of the benefits could be forgiven should the phrase ‘positive discrimination’ cross their mind.
It crops up a lot as some resourcing and events today actively target one gender over the other. We should have an open discussion about this.
We could make the excuse that all movements in history created fast positive change were inevitably a bit clunky in execution and ask both genders be patient with what may look like positive discrimination.
Alternatively, we could simply call it what it is and wrap some context around it. Men have been the beneficiary of thousands of years of positive discrimination.
In order to address the very real physical and psychological barriers and biases this has created (see the ‘Merit Trap’), an element of positive discrimination is necessary. We could therefore be proud our generation is the one to proactively rebalance this.
Gender blindness is not the answer to the problem, as many biases towards women are unconscious (you did watch the Ted Talk didn’t you?).
Women and men behave differently. In fact some humans behave differently to others, regardless of their gender. We therefore need augmented blindness – blindness in our fair decision making but not to awareness of gender differences, which can in fact be a competitive advantage.
To get there, we need men to take a proactive stance, be aware of these issues, and comfortable describing themselves as feminists.