How to Create A Corporate Environment That Embraces Gender Diversification
The business world is long overdue for a wakeup call, especially when it comes to understanding the value of the blended perspective that comes from having both men and women in top executive positions. We should not need to enact laws to protect social classes, ethnicities, and genders in the work place. Unfortunately, we have these laws because there are still people who choose to not hire, or value, people because of their age, gender, ethnicity, or relationship status.
I interviewed Deanna Latson, co-founder and chief product officer of ARIIX, an international opportunity company that promotes healthy toxic-free living, to learn how corporations can create work environments that embrace gender diversification. As the only female among eight board members, she recommends the following tips.
1 – Allow employees to have their own personalities and opinions
Creating an environment where a variety of opinions and perspectives are accepted and welcomed is essential. If you are sitting at a conference table where everyone is agreeing with what you have to say, it is not necessarily a good thing. Unique perspectives and opinions create balance.
If you notice an imbalance in your work culture, hire more people with diverse backgrounds and allow them the freedom to express their thoughts and opinions. The more diversification in the work place, the more fruitful the results.
2 – Understand that women and men each have unique perspectives
Men have their strengths and positive traits, but women have their own unique strengths and perspective too. Think of it this way: you have several executives sitting around a conference table – men on one side and women on the other. In the middle of that table is a cube that has many different sides and angles. The men have one view of the cube from their side of the table, while the women are seeing from an entirely different vantage point. Both are only viewing a small piece of a much larger picture. Each perspective is equally valuable and when combined create a synergy of ideas and insight that is much stronger.
In her own words, Latson adds, “Is one female board member enough to make a difference? Of course! Looking back at the cube analogy, if the men are looking at their side of the cube, and I’m seeing the other side, we double our ability to tackle the same situation successfully.”
3 – Place equal value on the feminine
“I’m very fortunate to be part of a company where my views as a woman are valued,” Latson added. “The experiences and unique insight we bring are essential. Women have a lot of purchasing power in the marketplace, so it makes sense that women should have a prominent role in the businesses that serve them. Be yourself and bring your unique perspective to the table. Recognize that the contributions you make to your organization are real, valuable, and okay to put out there. If there is one message I want women to remember, it is that being themselves in the business world is a very good thing. Your insights and perspective matter!”
Ignorance, gender inequality, bigotry, it all comes down to the fact that humans flock to like-minded people. So often corporations hire employees that are just like the brand, but then you end up with an imbalance of perspective. Latson said she feels fortunate because she is surrounded by people who recognize the benefits of gender diversification and it makes her stronger.
4 – Promote more women to leadership positions
There is a noticeable lack of female role models in many businesses today. This has the unfortunate tendency to make women feel like they have to assume male characteristics because that is what they see being rewarded and promoted.
“I’m a woman in a top executive position,” said Latson. “The reality is that it can be lonely at the top. More women need to be in positions of authority and be given the opportunity and resources to inspire, mentor, and lift up other women around them.”
The traditional, single-perspective business model is fading away. Those corporations that still follow that model are frozen in the past. Today’s entrepreneurial companies, led by both men and women, are shaping a new business world that is heading in the right direction.
5 – Create leadership teams that mirror the diversity of the community your company serves
How can a company effectively serve a diverse consumer base without having a diverse perspective in their organization? Are five men going to make a great skin care product for 40-year-old women? They might think so, but honestly they are going to miss a lot of the finer points. Would you go to a man and ask them to tell you what it is like to have a baby? Again, they might be able to give you the basics, but they are definitely going to miss many, many of the details!
“Those of us in a position to make a difference need to create more diverse leadership teams,” said Latson. “We need to embrace the variety of emotions, instincts, intensity, and intuition women bring to the table. Our unique perspective as women is so critical and necessary in today’s business world, especially in positions of leadership. If there are no women in c-suite roles, who is going to advocate hiring more females?”