Why is gender diversity at the workplace important? One could cite any number of politically correct reasons. However, those have already been done to death by others. Also, they are not necessarily why gender diversity at the workplace – especially in leadership positions – is essential.
Our workplaces need gender diversity because men and women are, by nature wired differently. In other words, each gender comes with some unique capabilities (and also ‘incapabilities’). This has a direct bearing on leadership abilities. To elaborate on this:
Man lives and operates by logic and reason, while woman is also driven by emotion and the heart. This is, in fact, the more dangerous and therefore more courageous path. Man tends to choose the rational path because it is usually also the safer one. Woman chooses the dangerous path of emotions and sentiments. (This is why women have always found it difficult to live in a man-made society driven by the safe paths of reason and logic.)
The qualities that define a woman are trust, sincerity, truthfulness and authenticity. In times of conflict, such as in war, these qualities do not work well. History has been defined by power struggles and wars, which is where the man’s abilities to be forceful, devious and ruthless served a larger purpose. This is why it now appears to be a male-dominated world.
However, man’s strengths are far more primitive than those of woman. As humanity evolves, it emerges that man’s qualities are those that shaped the past, while woman’s qualities are those that will shape the future. Both serve their purpose, so there is no question of one gender being superior to another. However, there is a subtle difference in abilities. This difference is the one we perceive between what abilities it takes to build a city, and the ones needed to build a society.
Woman should never try to imitate man, because imitation is always imitation – never equality. There are unique qualities of female leadership that the most effective women leaders possess:
- Women leaders are more assertive and persuasive
- They have a stronger need to get things done and are more willing to take risks than male leaders
- Women leaders are more empathetic and flexible, as well as stronger in interpersonal skills than their male counterparts. This helps them to read situations accurately and take information in from all sides
- Women leaders are more effective at bringing others around to their point of view, because they genuinely understand and care about where others are coming from
- Women leaders demonstrate a more inclusive, team-building leadership style of problem solving and decision-making
- Women leaders are more likely to ignore rules and take risks
- Women are more capable of turning challenges into opportunities
The leadership style of women is not simply unique but possibly also more valuable in business. The male approach of domination as a leadership style is becoming less and less popular. There is a new growing appreciation of the traits that women use to keep families together and to organize volunteers to unite and make change in the shared life of communities.
These qualities of shared leadership, nurturance and doing good for others are today not only sought after but also required to make a difference in the world. The woman’s way of leading includes helping the world to understand and be principled about values that really matter.