Sunday, 27 October 2013

McKinsey's report on Gender: How to affect change through facts.

McKinsey Women Matter video

Have a look at the above link which takes you to a video on the McKinsey website.

It's great to hear so much evidence all in one place.  Here are the key points with my thoughts;

When we have more women at the top it: 

increases financial return of the company and
increases scores on organisational health
increases the diversity of leadership behaviour

They point out in the video how women differ in decision making.

Men tend to be better at making individual decisions and taking corrective action
Women tend to be better at collaborative decision making and worry about the environment

Just like Cherie Blair said on the "Today programme" on BBC Radio 4 the other day "we don't want a female monopology....we need both"

Notice we've used the word "tend". We are not stereotyping simply noticing a trend. There are plenty of men and women who buck this trend too. But that's another blog!

Having just chaired a group of senior heads of Diversity, Equality and inclusion for The Work Foundation on Friday, I know what we want are answers on how to embed diversity at work.  McKinsey found the initiatives that work had to have a few criteria in place:

1. It's not what you do but how well you do it.  As a trainer, I so understand this.  You can bring in a large training company that will tick a box but not create lasting change.  We need to embed Equality into our training programmes so it embeds into the company.  This doesn't happen with a one off course  unless other things are in place eg reflection in the culture and understanding of management.

2. A visible CEO and senior management buying into equality from the top to the bottom so it's obvious the company are not just paying lip-service but taking this seriously.

I've come across companies that have great policies but don't embed them into their practise.  It's only with this embedding that true culture change can take place.

3. They know the numbers within their company, where the blockages are, so the initiatives are targeted to those points in the pipeline.

I recently delivered a training course in a large financial institution, to a number of Middle teer women. Women in their early 30s mainly who were thinking about having a family.  It was a huge success. One of the reasons it was a success was because L&D worked closely with me to create a bespoke offering.  I was also given the freedom to create space for discussions that wasn't in the brief.  This led to us understanding that the women were worried about the culture of the institution vs their family values.

They kept hearing about women who made it to the top with a family but the way they did it involved nannies, taxiing children to work to say goodnight and only seeing their children at the weekend.  A lot of the women in that room didn't want to be a mother like that, even if the father was halving the duties.

These women didn't feel they could speak up about how they felt and yet without speaking up, how can the business make the changes to the culture to keep these dynamic, successful women? We need to have open facilitated discussions to find the possible solutions, of which there are many!

I'd also like to point out that many family-oriented men are making a difference by asking to work one day at home.  This is really helping businesses see that the family value of seeing your children is not simply a 'female' issue.

4. Challenge the mindsets. It seems that even if the top are bought into the idea as you go down the business chain to middle management their mindsets are much more embedded.  "That job isn't good for a women" "women are too emotional" "if a woman fails at a job it will put back the woman's initiative by 10 years"

This area is key.  We need to embed behaviour.  We have all heard of ineffective training programme.  I was speaking to a friend of mine who said one of his team went to a Diversity Training programme and said "I'm off to be PC'd".  This isn't really in the spirit of the course! A 3 hour or day training course will not change a mindset on it's own. Only by embedding equality into all training courses can we really tackle this. It's so easily done.

Childcare and business: 
In the McKinsey video Jin Wang of McKinsey Singapore talks about the importance of family in Asia.

Mid to senior women (in Asia) volunteer to leave their jobs (because of children and families)l.  So it's "only with cultural and practical changes" that you will keep these women

What we will increasingly find is people choosing to work for businesses that have equality practises embedded into the company.  In HR magazine they reported the top family friendly company in 2013 was Plantronics for their inclusions and flexible working offerings. 

I recently spoke to a very successful Head of DEI who told me about how his company had such good equality practises businesses were choosing to work with them.

Lots of companies are also providing creche's and childcare onsite to help working parents.

The Future: 
All the women at McKinsey are very positive about the future.  "We need to get to a point of critical mass so subsequent generations of talent are even better than we are.  It's gonna happen"

I completely agree.  There are too many senior people who believe that this is essential for business to embrace equality.  As someone who trains in communication I see equality as I see variety of personality types.  If we want to influence those around us we need to have a flexible mindset and get on with lots of different personality types.  We also need to get on with people with different value systems. When we do we create a more dynamic innovative team.  We know that diverse teams create successful teams.  Equality is simply another layer to this.

If we see beyond gender, race, culture, disability, LBGT, we will see that if we look for diversity and reflection of our customer base we will increase our business success.  If we look beyond the challenges to keep these people in our workforce we will reep the benefits of their varied and innovative point of view.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

New for the news?

We've all been there - being wrong footed by someone who speaks and thinks in a different way from us.  Interviewers may come upon it more often than others - it's part of the job after all.  But there was something more in this interview by Jeremy Paxman interviewing Russell Brand.

Normally when you see an interview, politicians use what called in the trade "milton language". Milton language is the use of big picture language eg "Yes we can"; 'We can do this together".  Brand uses phrases like "why would anyone vote for it, why would anyone be interested". "I'm calling for change"

And historically the journalist wants to pin down data by asking questions that use "Meta Language".  Paxman says "Why should be take you seriously ,when you're so unspecific".  Meta language is about drilling down.  Picking out words and asking for more clarity.

So that is the norm in interviewing. We're used to hearing it and even when politicians avoid questions; bridge to another question or flag up an issue that they want the questioner to ask; we know they've thought about the boundaries of what they will say. It's all been thought through.

What's different about this interview is the freeness of the communication. The honest open endedness about it.  Saying there will be a revolution but we don't know how.  "There are people who know what to do but I don't have all the answers".  Can you imagine a politician or business owner saying this - probably not and when it does happen, we notice it.  Usually it's only part of an interview not the majority of it.

Yet we live in a world where increasingly politicians and business people can't know everything that is going on.  A time when innovation is key and new ways essential to consider.

When I'm in a training room there can be two ways to go:

You tell people things
You work out things together.

Telling people things might be interesting but when you work out things together they tend to last longer and have greater impact.

Also if you are trying to find new ways of working; new ways of innovating - telling doesn't work. You've got to be willing to say silly things that might not make 100% sense.

Bill Clinton said in a talk I went to see at an Entrepreneur's Conference last year that he wished for a day when more politicians would say "I made a mistake, it didn't work; so I'm going to try something else".  Politicians aren't often allowed that freedom.

The language of innovation is when you speak and you don't know the answer; it's a creative way of working out the next steps. It's not usually the language of political news programmes.  This kind of talk is for roundtables, for group discussions.

What was so fascinating about Brand was his honesty and unashamed inability to have all the answers. What was so captivating was seeing humour in politics; fun in the news.

The juxtaposition was innovative.