Have we gone too far with all the women’s stuff?

Last month I shared the insights of a book called Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. I got a lot of feedback – most of it good, but some not so positive. This month I would like to challenge us with the alternative notion: have we gone too far with all this women’s stuff?

I recently had the privilege of chatting with Dr Eliane Karsaklian. Eliane is truly a global citizen who has built a career as a professor, academic and consultant in the areas of international negotiation, marketing, diversity and inclusion. Eliane is an unusual combination of big-picture thinker, academic and practical businessperson. She has lived and worked in a number of countries during her career and mastered five languages, giving her extensive knowledge and experience in negotiation techniques and intercultural relationships.

As an internationally known speaker and award-winning researcher, Eliane has been invited to speak at a number of universities around the world. She is currently Clinical Professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Her most recent book – The Negotiation Process: Before, During, and After You Close a Deal – introduces a completely new perspective on international negotiation, providing practical, field-tested examples and guidance to enable readers to implement sustainable negotiation in the real world.

You can listen to our chat here.

This podcast is not just about ‘women’s issues’, it is about the stories created by social media, the danger of becoming a victim and avoiding accountability, and the power of resilience.

If you have the time to listen to the entire podcast, please grab a cup of tea or coffee and settle in. Or put on your sneakers, pop in your headphones and take a walk while listening.

If you don’t have the time, if podcasts aren’t your thing or if you just want someone to give you the headlines, then read on. The following are the key insights that emerged from my conversation with Eliane.

  1. Check the facts.
    Don’t believe the hype of social media and content marketing. Social media is a powerful tool that can deliver incredible benefits to individuals, organisations and the world in general. However, it can also be a dangerous weapon. The quantity of information we have access to and the speed at which we can access it means that we often don’t have time to question its validity. Instead, we tend to accept what we read and hear. Critical thinkers, true innovators and successful individuals check facts, avoid assumptions and base decisions on evidence, not opinions.
  2. Are you a follower or a leader?
    When you check facts, question assumptions and seek evidence, this allows you to be a thought leader rather than a thought follower. Today, more than ever, critical and analytical thinking is required to identify and implement the solutions required to drive long-term individual and business success.

  3. Are you being a victim?
    Bad things happen to all of us sometimes, including in our careers, whether it be losing a job, missing out on a promotion, being cheated or embezzled from – the list goes on. We cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react. Too often, for too many, these bad or unfortunate experiences or situations become an excuse for not taking action or wallowing in our misfortune. The next time you feel that a situation is unfair, ask yourself: am I a victim or a warrior?
  4. Has the women’s movement gone too far?
    Women are now represented in almost every industry, every profession and every level of business, and while there is still disparity in terms of their representation, does this justify the approach of and the resources dedicated to the women’s movement? There are schools, business funding, mentoring groups, days of recognition and thousands of groups to support and address the needs of women only. Aren’t we doing what we accuse men of doing – that is, creating separation and excluding others?
  5. Are we stifling diversity?
    Following on from the point above, if we really believe in diversity and inclusion, how can we condone this exclusion? While the intention is to offer specialist support for minority groups, isn’t this approach only creating a single viewpoint which is itself neither diverse nor inclusive?
  6. Diversity is not inclusion.
    A diverse workforce is not necessarily an inclusive workforce. Inclusion requires acceptance, psychological safety and the ability to add value and be valued – in other words, to be part of the discussion. Organisations are now reporting their quantitative statistics in terms of their employees’ age range, gender, nationality and so on. But what is the real impact? Are individuals from minority groups truly included in the conversation or are they merely tokens?

  7. Diversity is about more than just gender.
    While we might know this academically, unfortunately, as a community and in business, we still spend the majority of our resources on gender-related issues. Diversity includes how we think, our experiences, how we communicate and so on. Let’s broaden the debate and get creative by including voices from a much wider range of groups and perspectives.

  8. Are we focusing on outcomes or optics?
    Cynically, we might question whether all these activities and statistics are for optics only. And, if this is the case, could they be doing more harm than good? Lip service to notions of fairness and taking action solely for the purpose of improving diversity ratings can be dangerous not only for an organisation but also for the individuals impacted. None of us wants to be the token Asian, woman, disabled or hearing-impaired person in the room.

The driving motivation behind Peeplcoach was to ensure equal opportunity and equal access to resources, in our case an experienced coach, to empower every person to build the career and life they desire and deserve. We are proud to say that at April 2021 we now have 48% female participation on our emerging and developing leader programs. Sadly, the numbers are lower on our Executive and Advanced leader program where we have less than 15% female participation, but we are definitely moving in the right direction.

If you would like to find out more about how Peeplcoach can be accessible to ALL employees within an organisation please feel free to book a time to chat with Christine Khor or James Chisholm.