Why don’t all of our gender diversity efforts work?!?
This is a question I am commonly asked. My short response is this:
We need to simplify. Focus on less and focus on things that are really important. That means: have the courage to take a big red pen to MANY of your ‘diversity’ activities which are nice….but don’t cut to the chase and have the impact and results.
Right! So, on gender diversity, with the goal of simplification, the elephant in the room is actually fundamental and age old: the battle of the sexes! Much of what goes on to limit the careers of women happens because MEN AND WOMEN DON’T UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER!
Ask yourself these questions:
Do you think men and women are different? YES/NO
Is Gender Inclusion important to the future growth of your organisation? YES/NO
Have you ever been confused by someone of the opposite gender and where they are coming from? YES/NO
Can you think of differences between you and someone of the opposite gender? YES/NO
What would happen if we could start to bridge the divide and the miscommunication and lack of understanding that arises because of this fundamental difference?
It’s amazing how little men and women know about one another, I mean, really know about one another. Men and women think they know a lot about the opposite sex, but in fact, what they have are a lot of opinions. Opinions are fine but they are limited in scope, substance and usefulness. Why? Because we gain our opinions from mapping other peoples behaviour onto our own experience.
When we rely on opinions to judge the other sexes behaviour, we tend to look for confirmation of what we already believe. We also tend to decide instinctively whether other people are right or wrong instead of really listening to them.
Opinions are good for making more opinions but they are not very good tools for learning. The time has come to put aside your opinions. What you are about to receive are insights. Insights are discoveries we make when we become aware of something we weren’t previously conscious of. They are about discovery, about alerting your mind to something entirely new, about grappling with something you never really thought about before, about taking a look at the world through an entirely different pair of eyes.
Like I said, it is amazing to see how little men and women know about each other. The proof? When women hear men’s challenges, their most common reaction is: “I never realised men felt that way.”
Whether you agree or not, here is what research says men’s top 5 challenges with women and gender diversity are:
Men feel they have to be careful;
Men feel confused;
Men fear harassment charges;
Men feel reverse discrimination;
Men feel blamed.
In our next article on this subject we will give you more details on each of these challenges and the issues.
In the meantime – think about whether you agree that sometimes men experience the above challenges? If you are not sure – what questions could you ask or conversations and debates could you strike up this week? How could you get COURAGEOUSLY CURIOUS?
Now remember, don’t get all ruffled because you strongly agree/ disagree with what I am saying – the fact is, this is the experience of some men, that may not be you! Try not to take the narrow view, which is your world view only (ie ‘I don’t think this or experience this therefore it must not exist at all’). Think more in terms of – have I ever heard this? What do other men really think? How could I LISTEN ASK & INVESTIGATE (rather than get on my high horse!)???