Men, are you ready? (a she-said, he-said account)
Let’s just say that we start fostering diversity through gender balance, as we’ve suggested in our Soluna Institute mission. The irony of the movement [currently take on by women's organizations and supported by women's initiatives] then is that the major tipping point for women will have to come from men!! If women make up 15% of the C-level roles, then the leaders who will take this on for all of us will be – - to a very great extent – - the men who currently sit at that level in the other 85% of the CEO positions!! Guess we’d better invite them to the conversation a bit more often!!!
So, gone are the days where we women can discuss our futures just among the other women in our affinity group. (Okay, so, yes, these groups give us a lovely sense of ourselves and a necessary bond with other women that gives us strength, BUT….)
What do men need to do/know/be to help us all foster the diversity we need for better decisions, stronger families and more successful communities? Seriously, guys, what do you need???
You are about to hear one man’s answer. Hey, Charlie Elkins, are ya ready? Will you help us all? [Oh, and by the way, Charlie just happens to care a lot. He is not only a Board member here at Soluna and a marketing leader in his industry, but he enjoys helping men and women make sense of their marriages. He even wrote a book to offer some witty guidance to his son on the subject of understanding the other sex.]
Charlie, if you (and other men, of course) are meant to do-this-diversity-stuff along with all of us, what do you need?
I’ve been married 24 years as of a month ago. One of the keys to a long, successful marriage is being a student of your mate’s behavior, and your own. Studying her behavior helps me anticipate situations that will arise. Observing my own behavior as objectively as possible helps me recognize my tendencies and perhaps modify my responses to better accommodate her. To keep it interesting, I try to find humor in each situation.
One of things I struggled to understand early in marriage was my wife’s desire to share a seemingly moment-by-moment account of her day. This usually occurred right as I walked in the door from work. It felt like a flood of words washing over me. I found myself frantically asking myself, “what am I supposed to do, what am I supposed to DO?” I think this is pretty common husband/wife behavior. Eventually, I learned that my wife was simply sharing her day with me and there was usually no “to-do” attached with any of it, although there was the risk that I would be expected to remember some nugget of information at a future date.
If you study marriage as I have done, it becomes pretty obvious that men and women approach it with very different, perhaps even opposite expectations. Most men approach marriage, and everything else for that matter, in terms of action and accomplishment–what am I supposed to do? Men want to know what they are expected to do and how it should be done. Most women approach marriage in terms of emotions and relationship. Women want to share their feelings, both shallow and deep, with their husband.
I think the working world mirrors marriage in various ways. Certainly, those of us in management find ourselves inundated with information, much like I did as a young husband coming home from work. In the working world, we frequently receive reminders about the company’s commitment to diversity and such. We are told that diversity is important. We have programs and metrics related to diversity. Yet I don’t think most of us really know what we are supposed to do. It can’t be just theory and it shouldn’t be limited to purely token actions like putting a female on the board or setting a quota for racial balance in a department.
If diversity is really a serious objective, we need to find positive, practical ways to enable each person in the business to know how to bring about diversity in their department. We need to take it out of the realm of pithy statements by executives and generic posters in the breakroom.
I have some thoughts on how to make accomplishing diversity practical and will share them in future blog posts.
Ladies and Gentlemen, What do you think we should do?
Why don’t women lead in any sector,
in any country,
- as per ‘Breakthrough’, a report prepared from the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2009.
Currently, the only millennial promise yet unmet from the World Economic Forum in Davos is ‘Women in Leadership’. It has been proven that if women lead proportionately in business and elsewhere, profits will increase and the impact to their own communities will be positive.
So, we know the ‘what’ and the ‘why’… and now the Soluna Institute has been created as a non-profit institute and foundation, dedicated to finally addressing the ‘How’! Because the Soluna Institute is a non-profit, we are able to encourage individuals and businesses to jointly invest in research and education that is more comprehensive and actionable than the efforts that currently exist within siloed company walls.
We all profit when we work together, men and women, as evidenced by the following:
“Closing the gender gap… would have huge implications for the global economy, boosting US GDP by as much as 9%, EU GDP by 13% and Japanese GDP by 16%”
- Goldman Sachs’s Global Economics Paper No: 154
Women reinvest 90% of their income in the families and communities, compared with men who reinvest only 30% to 40%
- former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright
“Eliminating gender discrimination in relation to occupation and pay could increase women’s wages by about 50% and national output by 5%
– Rachael Mayanja, UN Special Advisor on gender
Companies with 3 or more women board of directors, return on equity was 16.7%, compared to the average of 11.5%
– Groundbreakers report from Davos
Restricting job opportunities for women costs the region between US$42 billion and US$46 billion a year in GDP growth.
- UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Countries
I had the most amazing aha moment, and it occurred when I spoke at the Southwest Airlines Diversity Summit. What a great event. Heck, anything they do is pretty amazing. It struck me as interesting that THEY were interested in working on diversity. If one of the best places to work on nearly every magazine’s poll list is still trying to figure it out, then who has it right?!? No one. That’s right, no one.
So, I digress. What was my aha moment? Well, I was asked to speak at the event, and I followed a number of pretty fabulous people who said some great, great things. Texas Instruments, for example, has done amazing things to get a foothold on diversity. They spoke of affinity groups. The positive feeling was palpable in the audience. This is a good thing. Lots of good vibes from that panel.Read More
Soluna – A Catalyst for Change
In my 15+ years as a leadership and organizational development practitioner, I’ve observed predictable patterns of behavior that separate exceptional leaders, teams and organizations from those who are just achieving average results. Those who are able to break through the barrier of mediocrity, men and women, are in true partnership with one another, working towards the same vision and goals. They create an egalitarian culture that brings out the best in everyone and promotes collaboration, innovation and healthy conflict.
One of the goals of the Soluna Institute is to become the catalyst for change that helps to replicate this pattern of success in any organization, in any culture, in any country. This is no easy task given some of the strong undercurrents that flow through many organizations: constant change, cultural norms, “business as usual” mentality, gender bias (conscious and unconscious). The advantage Soluna has in addressing these internal issues is the ability to approach them from an objective external perspective. This “eyes wide open” approach will allow Soluna to assemble the best minds to address the challenges around gender diversity and to the provide tools and resources needed for implementing solutions.Read More
My crazy idea is now yours….
Wow, this recession has certainly been a kick in the seat! Or, has it been a kick start to new ways of working? I think it’s both.
The last couple of years have highlighted so many opportunities to reflect and consider a new paradigm of work…one that closes the gender gap and reaps rewards for everyone. Yet, it’s through lessons learned from my past couple of decades as a Behavioral Psychologist that have provided the clarity needed to really move this movement forward.
Even though we did everything ‘right’ to drive diversity changes throughout my clients’ organizations, the results were never quite what we wanted. So, I set out to find out why and, through some pretty amazing blog conversations with many of you (www.intheladiesroom.net), learned a lot:
Diversity has been an issue for a long time and we still haven’t managed it well. 10 years and 11 days before I was born, Rosa Parks, arguably, started the civil rights movement. We watched a milestone when Congress passed Equal Rights Amendment in 1972. And ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ brought sexual orientation into the mainstream workforce in 1993. All of these issues are still on our collective plate, so the diversity challenge we face is a big one.Read More
I would like to, officially, welcome you as a part of the Soluna Institute and Foundation – - speaking on behalf of my fellow directors, Sheri Jenkinson and Steve Lopez, as well!! [www.solunainstitute.org]
The name is a great one, if I do say so myself. It has ‘sol’, the masculine word for sun, and ‘luna’, the feminine word for moon as a part of it. We can’t just be about women. We have to create and sustain gender diversity in leadership. In other words, we are not a women’s organization, we are here for both genders to move forward together. The next step beyond a women’s initiative. [all of the women's groups for networking, coaching, etc, are doing a wonderful job, so we opted to be of service to them, rather than in competition with them]
Diversity brings better answers. more profit. more talent to choose from.Read More Post a comment (1)
No one does anything alone. Right?
Well, I know I didn’t. In starting this blog, and now this company, I ran across the most amazing individuals who are smart and sweet and willing to help. They each, tirelessly, gave me the gift of their talent. [and, by tirelessly, I mean that I've spent many very, very late hours, speaking to these people about you, when they could have been sleeping!]
As I toyed with the idea of ‘helping women in the workplace’ somehow, I sat with the most amazingly elegant and worldly woman I have ever met to dream about what this could be. Christa Dowling, former Editor-in-chief of Conde Nast/Vogue in Germany, has written a book called “The Unkept Promise”, a Woman’s Journey. She is an example to me, a mentor and a friend. I credit Christa for giving me the energy to begin this blog. She had me to breakfast at her home, on the most beautiful china I’ve ever seen, and she said, when I was finished, “Pamela, why not?” I thought, I don’t know. So, I did.Read More Post a comment (1)
That is the question I’ve asked myself, for more than a decade, when it comes to women in leadership.
Why do we graduate from University in great numbers and not to the C-suite?
Why are more women the breadwinners in their family and yet there is a pay gap?
Why are we the driver as a consumer purchaser and yet not the leader of sales organizations?
I have been grappling with these questions [and tons more], in the last 15 years, in the process of measuring the culture inside organizations. And, as of yet, no one can answer me… I mean really answer me.
Now, it seems that the world is as confused as I am. This is why I wanted to build a business around the blog. I just wasn’t sure what for. What could I do that wasn’t being done?
There are things going on in the world that are good for our cause, and I don’t want to step on those toes. [is that the most, decidedly, female way to say that, or what?! But, I am a female, and I think my statement makes sense. Ah, the journey.]Read More Post a comment (2)
Could I have uncovered the secret to the impossible? Work/Life Balance?!?
Who me? An unmarried, childless, nomad of an entrepreneur? This pinball-like feeling we all have between work and life is an endless roller-coaster of guilt, frustration and sadness. Whether we have kids or not. a hobby or not. a spouse or not. It’s a topic raised at every HR meeting and every dinner party on the planet. And, it has been for years!
I felt it balance. Or, should I say, I felt it go completely out-of-balance, by choice, and, surprise, surprise, the world did not end. People understood. I felt better – - I feel better. My job is getting done, now, more impactfully – - precisely because of the ‘new normal’ I created, and communicated to others, in my wonderfully, perfectly out-of-balance work and life.
It was weird. It’s true, you haven’t seen a blog post from me since my daddy died before the holidays. I couldn’t do it, Every time I sat down, I felt the blood drain from my body. I had to not write a blog post to stay sane. I was needed in my family. I went there.Read More Post a comment (7)
I lost my daddy yesterday.
Btw, I am allowed this term, even though I am 43, because I am from the South and because I say so. I miss him more than words can express. This post, however, is not going to be about how profoundly sad this whole experience is [but, I assure you, I have dissolved into tears, twice already. And there is more to come].
It’s to say that I lost the person in the world who said ‘Yes’ to me.
I remember when I was 10, and I asked if we could buy the house next door [which was not for sale] and make it into a 2-story playroom. I had even drawn up plans. There would have been a soda fountain, I was sure of that. He said ‘yes’. I don’t remember being upset with him that we didn’t buy it, though, because I sincerely believed he wanted to. We were both sad that this project didn’t turn out. I learned to be creative and innovative, and I tell the longer version of that story in several of my keynote addresses on Innovation.Read More Post a comment (13)