I joined in a Google Hangout with Harvard Business Review. Sarah Green interviewed Amy Bernstein both from HBR. It was my first hangout and a great discussion.
Here’s what was said:
This is a topic that makes people role their eyes and most of HBR’s readership is men. So they wanted to create a story that would interest all the readership. They came up with the front cover you see above.
The cover was used because women in leadership are criticized as being too emotional, too bossy or too nice and these are words used for women not men in leadership
SECONDARY OR UNCONSCIOUS BIAS
Amy said the article was important to women she talked to because it helped put words to the action. Women saw it, noticed it but hadn’t named it.
A watcher asked “by having a cover about women as leaders [is this] not extending the bias – we wouldn’t have a cover about men as leaders.” Amy responded by explaining that bias is there and we wont change it unless we talk about it. Also any article about women in leadership is also about men in leadership. It’s about any group of people who are not in power ie anyone who is not a middle class white male.
There is a bias towards people that aren’t like you. We need to create companies that help us understand all differences.
We stop looking at this concept when we have no problem. She doesn’t think it’s any time soon.
WHEN WILL WE GET THERE
Sarah mentioned that it could take 300 years until women are equal to men. Amy argued that it is most likely to be a sensational statistic because there is probably going to be a tipping point.
We’ve come a long way in many businesses. Business are increasingly looking at ability not how people look and where they went to college.
Amy discussed how you can’t lure young people with money the way you could lure other generations
You need to have structures and rewards that helps the next generation unleash their talents and love what they do.. There has to be hand in hand progress with women fixing themselves and businesses fixing themselves. You have to have them in both, which is where the tipping point comes in. Once we start to react to women as leaders and reward them for it, we will start seeing change.
TEAM WORK AND THE BOTTOM LINE
Are some companies doing this better than others? Those companies that help women develop and in the process help all people in the process
There has been lots of research into team work and its conclusions are: A diverse response is a better response. You have to watch your echo chamber ie who you listen to. You need to make sure you have more diverse feedback as this will help you make a better decision
This is part of the business case for diversity.