Sunday, 28 April 2013

What does a big brain mean?

On Saturday 27th April 2013 in the Mail Online Professor Richard Lynn said ”Men are more intelligent than women which is why in some areas men will always achieve more” You can read it here.

He quotes Baroness Greenfield asking the question why there are only 10% of science professors.  He argues that women don’t have and will never have a high enough IQ to be top science professors at an equal 50:50 ratio.  His conclusion is women will get there but a smaller percentage. 

As you can imagine, I disagree.  But why do I disagree?

It’s a fact, women’s brains are different from men’s. 
It’s a fact, men have higher IQ’s than women.  And here’s the thing.  We measure IQ according to male criteria.  They measure reasoning, problem-solving, spatial ability, general knowledge and memory. He agrees women outperform men in verbal reasoning.  Perhaps the IQ test needs to be more balanced across all intelligence.  And there are different tests so I’m not sure how much I trust his data.

I would argue we don’t want to be clones of men at the top of the tree – we want to be equals with a separate and different voice.  Baroness Greenfield argues that you can’t trap in DNA, if you are good or bad at science.  Surely intelligence is also about your curiosity, your ability to communicate across disciplines and so many other factors other than good general knowledge and memory.

As women have more connections between the two sides of the brain and men show tunnel vision in the brain – it is important the two types of brain work together in a modern world. 

I believe the reason we need women at the top is to create a better and stronger team.  There is an argument that the banking crisis occurred because there were too many male led boards, taking risks and not challenging the direction at the time.  Women’s verbal reasoning surely will be useful in similar circumstances. 

This old argument of our brains are different doesn’t stick any more.  Yes we’re different but it’s that very difference that is the reason more women need to be at the top of politics, business, science and technology.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Business case for Flexible Working at senior level

I posted a question to senior women on Linked in:

What is the business case for having senior women working flexibly:
Is flexible working an HR headache or a business opportunity?

Here is the summary of the responses explaining the benefits of flexible working.  Thank you to all who contributed to the discussion.

Flexible working: 

1.        Enhances company reputation
2.        Supports a Green Agenda
3.        Increases employee control and so helps achieve positive health outcomes
4.        Increases productivity because a happier and motivated stakeholder is a more productive stakeholder
5.        Lowers costs to the business because less hours are worked. 
6.        Introduces work smart rather than work long ethos. Flexible workers are focused workers
7.        Creates an innovative business outlook. The NED model works for the board – why not for senior management?
8.        Addresses the current pipeline issue of women at senior level and on boards for many reasons (I'll do a blog soon about pipeline issues) 
9.        Introduces better succession management  as more women will be attracted to the top jobs if flexibility is offered.
10.    improves retention of talent – more women will stay if they can have flexible opportunities.
11.    offers extended customer service - some women may want to work until 2 and then work again around 7pm to 10pm. 

Successful flexible working requires buy in from the senior management, good communication, clear boundaries and clarity over how it aligns to the needs of the client and customer. It needs to be business driven. It requires a shift in management culture and thinking to be effective.

For a list of successful senior leaders who manage flexible work with senior responsibiity see:

Why is a Women’s programme important

Lord Davies report of 2011 suggested a goal of 25% of board members to be women by 2015.

On Wednesday 10th April 2013 Cranfield University’s FTSE Female report stated that although the figures of women on boards in FTSE 100 companies had increased to 17.3% it was still short of Lord Davies target.  Also during the first half of the year there were 44% of posts given to women in the second half of the year this dropped to 26%.

Vince Cable said on Thursday 11th April "today's report also serves as a timely reminder to business that quotas are still a real possibility if we do not meet the target of 25% of women on boards of FTSE companies by 2015."

Successful companies engaging in this goal are

1.   identifying the perceived barriers to progression. 
2.   creating a gender strategy within their organisation

Women’s programmes help to:
1.      Increase the number of women in senior management and on boards
2.      Improve succession planning and engage senior management to help
          pull women through the organisation.
3.      Increase retention of talent in middle management
4.      Support women to get their first promotion

BeSpokeskills can deliver a diagnostic report to identify barriers and offer business solutions to increase numbers of women at different levels of the organization.