We have an amazing global network of brilliant women, yet we continue to be frustrated by the all too brutal fact that women get paid less (12 – 14%) despite frequently doing more and certainly being materially more able at building collaborative, inclusive workplaces. We listen to women every day talk about the challenges they face, their anxiety about putting themselves forward for roles, and their consistent, often unmet need to feel safe and included. We hear them exclude themselves from roles unnecessarily, undervalue their own contribution, or attribute their successes to others.
Throughout their careers, women can find themselves in blokey cultures and instead of standing up for the things that matter to them, being their authentic selves, they start to mimic the culture to fit in. They might not go the full monty, but they go far enough to feel that they are no longer sure of who they are. They live with a nagging sense of ‘wrongness’ – watching ways of operating they don’t agree with, decisions that are without legacy and being typecast as either ‘one of the boys’ or ‘she’s just a woman mate’ and not defending themselves. They hide the cost of working with small children, the cost of menstruating, and the cost of menopause. They can give up on the very things that make them special and unique, in order to fit in.
We hear organisations wanting to change, to address the balance, but not knowing how to do it. We see them trying but trying the wrong things. We also see successes, and we celebrate this.
Through Open Door and many of our leadership programs, we help men and women listen to each other with a more insightful ear. We guide people to construct cultures that are not so much inclusive, as profoundly different.
Over the next year, we will help companies not only recruit women, but understand what it takes to find, select, recruit and promote women. And we will help women candidates realise their full worth and ensure they are placed into organisations where they can flourish and lead with confidence.
And we will continue to be part of Homeward Bound, hearing endlessly the depressing data flow on the state of the planet, and try to be stubbornly optimistic as the wonderful Christiana Figueres encourages us to be on all these issues.
The alternative is untenable.