That’s a Man’s Job No More
It used to be that there were certain jobs for boys, and certain jobs for girls. When you would buy a Barbie for your daughter, she would be a secretary; an airline stewardess. Conversely Action Man was equipped with explosives for downing enemy planes. The binary gender roles that were implanted from a young age dictated that if you’re a girl, you’re going to be a PR, a nurse, a beautician. A boy? Well then you’re going to be a doctor or a scientist. Or in the army. Or a CEO.
But things have changed.
Last month’s election saw the most female candidates claiming their seat in parliament. Twenty-nine percent of the candidates standing for election were women, with 208 securing a seat (that’s means 32% of MPs are women).
And whilst there are many factors that contributed to the election’s outcome – one that I tend to subscribe to is diversity. People voted for a more diverse parliament. Of Labour’s candidates 40% were women, compared to the Conservative’s 28%. Of the 13 seats that the Conservatives lost, most were male, seeming to demonstrate a shift away from the classic boy’s club model.
This ties in with something I reported on a couple of week’s ago too. In a recent report from management consultancy firm McKinsey and Co., “companies ranking in the top quartile of executive-board diversity, returns on equity were 53% higher, on average, than they were for those in the bottom quartile”.
It’s plain to see. Diversity is the key to success. But how do we go about ensuring that this fact is promulgated and adhered to?
Writing in the Huffington Post last week, Javni Patel, Co-founder and chair at Halebury and lawyer, proposes a three-pronged attack.
We have seen Macron, and previously Trudeau declare a 50/50 split of men to women in both the French and Canadian parliaments. Their reason? ‘Well, why wouldn’t we have a split like this?’ My question. Why wouldn’t businesses approach the matter in the same way?
Change Your DNA
Board level changes have been shown to be effective, but we really need to be looking at the structure of organisations too. Many areas of business can be both male and female dominated, but by ensuring that business process, even down to recruitment, are undertaken and overseen by both genders we will ensure that biases do not take base in the building of a business.
Whilst it’s easy to make soft targets that can or can’t be reached with no real consequence either way, it’s up to business leaders to create targets that matter. If these diversity targets aren’t reached, the effects should be felt in the budget, right in the bonuses. That will make people stand up and pay attention.
Finally, legislation needs to be firmly set in place to ensure that the above point can be enforced and effective. Without the backing of the government we are going to see the momentum we have right now turning into nothing but hot air.
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