The Relentless Pursuit for Gender Diversity in the Workplace

Daniel Tong

 

The Relentless Pursuit for Gender Diversity in the Workplace

I take a keen interest in this topic.

So it’s not surprising that a report titled ‘Reinventing the workplace for greater gender diversity,’ by consulting firm McKinsey piqued my interest.

As one would expect from a reputable organisation, it’s thorough and packed with fascinating insights and stats. Well worth a read. However, as I went about my business that day, I found myself reflecting, not about the facts and findings, but this…

How many reports from powerhouse consulting firms do we need?

In 2014, McKinsey released their survey findings in a report titled, ‘Moving mind-sets on gender diversity.’ And, ‘Why gender diversity at the top remains a challenge.’  Hop online and you’ll find ‘gender diversity projects’. Projects!

Key ‘gender diversity’ into Google and you’ll find information galore: reports, projects, articles and more. In consulting fees, human resources and project teams alone, I suspect it’s a huge cost to the economy. We could, if the fancy takes us, trawl though copious studies and reports year after year.

So I wonder…

Why is it so hard to achieve gender diversity in the workplace?

After all, each additional report highlights that we know what the issues are and, where they are. We seem to be filled with good intention. Coaxing, encouraging and educating. And yet…we’re just not getting very far.

Ernest Hemingway said, “Never confuse movement with action.” How right he is, because we’re moving and scurrying but it seems to me, not hurrying.

Could language and tone play a part?

Sometimes the language of ‘change’ can be threatening, like “moving mind sets” and “reinventing”. To those less friendly to the idea, I imagine it sounds more mind-blowing than “mind-moving”!

An article in the Huffington Post titled, “The Business Case for Gender Diversity,” reinforced the point and sparked another thought…

How sad that we need to position this worthy goal through the lens of a ‘business case’.

It’s just not something I’m used to

Of course, I’m a woman, so I’m well aware of the challenges. It’s a well-discussed topic of conversation within my social groups. From career women, mums with part-time jobs to my marathon running buddies, most have a story to share.

I’m just not used to it myself.

So why?

I believe it’s about culture and values

In the field of direct selling, we don’t talk about ‘gender diversity’ or ‘gender equality’ and the like. We don’t find ourselves selling the concept of a ‘gender diverse workforce’    or needing to highlight its benefits to either the decision-making process or bottom line.

While I’m the first to admit we experience the occasional hiccup, the industry’s culture and values generally steer us in the right direction. No educating, coaxing or convincing required. It’s all very civilised, cohesive and I believe, honourable.

The direct-selling opportunity attracts more women than men

We know that this is partly due to the type of companies involved and their product offerings; and, (because women are usually primary carers) the income-earning potential balanced with family-friendly flexibility and convenience.

With low barriers to entry, a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive environment, it’s a space in which women feel comfortable. Here, they tell us, they find a level playing field, a true meritocracy— perhaps for the first time ever in their working life.

It seems the men in our industry agree, with many attracted by those very same qualities too.

Our industry holds true to its values and in doing so, attracts those who share them.

I think like this…

Why don’t we pursue gender diversity and equality in the workplace because it’s the right thing to do?

Let’s make that the primary motivator. And when we do, enjoy the additional benefits it brings, like… better business decisions and a healthier bottom line.

 

Author: Gillian Stapleton

Photo courtesy Stocksnap.io/Daniel Tong

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