Here we go again. Evidence just keeps coming in that the disregard within our corporations for the talents of women is counter-productive. And by that I do not mean to women as a group, or some notion of equality, though they both equally suffer in this process. I mean to the bottom line. And while boards are elected and executives hired with broad fiduciary responsibilities, says nothing more central than recruiting talent to bring in the moolah.
I have argued before that it has been a strategic mistake to urge corporate appointments for women as a matter of equity. That’s why I am uneasy about quotas. Because to press this as an equity issue is to frame it wrong. The equity agenda implies, even though it does not state, that there are costs which the organization needs to absorb in order to play fair. The failure to appoint women in appropriate (not equitable) numbers to senior executive posts in major corporations and to the boardrooms, far from saving resources for the organization, is plainly weakening for the company by denying it the best hires. In an earlier post I suggested this was the equivalent of discounting applications from persons living west of the Mississippi, or those with brown eyes.
My own view is that before long women will come to dominate executive leadership roles in corporate and government and nonprofit sectors alike. And the evidence is beginning to come in . So this study in Harvard Business Review demonstrates that women are superior leaders and managers in almost every category. And remember, this is in the current situation, where as we all know there are special pressures on them to perform; and where in most organizations they have little or no role in shaping the corporate culture. My take is that once this has begun to happen (and I’m not speaking simply hear of creches, job sharing, work from home, and such, but of more fundamental culture shifts), we shall have reached a tipping point. Not that we shall quite have attained to “the end of men,” but in the higher echelons there is no question in my mind that we shall see within 20 or 25 years the emerging mirror image of the 1950s.
Be scared, be very scared, male persons whose sense of worth and whose effectiveness in career terms is dependent on the current set of cultural assumptions which in effect use a quota system to perpetuate the dominance of male appointments. Be scared partly because the economics of the situation are against you. And, as we know, economics is a vicious adversary. It takes no prisoners. Just as MOOCs and Gcars will devastate great areas of the employment landscape, even as they provide us much cheaper education and safer cars, so the skill sets of smart hard-working men will increasing need to be retooled if they are to remain in any way competitive in an environment of rapid change and (candidly) female dominance.
Read the numbers in this study, and consider that these women leaders are outperforming their male colleagues in a cultural context designed absolutely to advantage those colleagues.
Are Women Better Leaders than Men? – Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman – Harvard Business Review.
- Of Time and Management – and Women (futureofbiz.org)