I have had the opportunity to work for and with some of the best talent within the largest global companies - the dominant forces in their industry sectors. As a professional coach who advises global CEOs around the world and works with their top leaders, I can say that I have met with and advised some of the best and some of the brightest. Do you know what? This may be a shocking thing … they were not all men! However, considering, for example, products—where 80% of consumer decisions are made by women—and knowing that only 3% of women hold leadership positions in the corporations that are making the products, something isn’t quite right in the way our world makes talent decisions.
Clearly, we are a long way from integrating the best talent into our business leaders’ cadre and it’s realisations like this that lead me to believe we’re either inept, idle or victims of collective blindness. It must be one of those, because it seems that we continue to apply the rules of feudalism in the new world of work democracy. By this I mean we wax lyrical about innovation and authentic leadership and gender equality in principle, but we do not support our ideals in practice. You need only look around at the behaviours and competencies that will be truly valued by the organisations of tomorrow to understand that those who have these qualities in abundance are today’s disenfranchised gender group: women. Further, as we only achieve 55% of the capability of our current workforce, we cannot continue to ignore the obvious: the world and the world of work need more women leaders.
Looking back, it seems we are a long way from the Suffragist-style catalyst of the late nineteenth century (a reference that cannot be ignored in an article about women in business); we have stagnated. Looking around us, it would appear we’re amidst an unfinished revolution. Looking forward, then, it is clear we have a golden opportunity to redefine the ideal final result and, more crucially, to reset the mould on how we get there!
A new mindset for the new world:
Gender bias in society, which is integrated in structures and institutions, is also reflected in the entrepreneurial field. We find that the domains where the majority of women are found, both as employees and as entrepreneurs, are not valued as highly as the domains men occupy. That is why the work being carried out by UNCTAD and the Empretec network is so important. These biases and domain silos in the entrepreneurial field will not be changed without directed, allocated funds.
In my experience, and based on my most educational dealings with countless successful women (my own high-flying partner included!), we need a new mindset for the new world. I recently read a front cover that said, “Since the human race began, women have delivered for society. It is time now for the world to deliver for women.” No, I say! It is now time that women took us back to the future on entrepreneurship and innovation. These are the fields that need to be farmed in the future. These are the fields that will allow gender inequality to be marginalised.
We need to go back to the future and finish the revolution. To succeed, we need a new mindset for the new world; a mindset which embraces innovation and entrepreneurship as a critical step on the journey to success. Then, we need to capitalise on this mindset by identifying and positively recognising the women in the workforce who are innovators, role models and true leaders in the technology, science and engineering fields. Women are the consumers of the future and they are the innovators of today, so we need to bring them to the front and give them the opportunities needed to take us back to the future on entrepreneurship and innovation and finish the revolution … for all our sakes.
Innovate or stagnate—it’s our choice.
Note to editor:
In his current role, Maurice is responsible for all of blackswan’s transformation programmes based in 23 countries and head quartered in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Maurice is an executive board level operator and his experience has seen him heading global businesses across 103 countries involving 30,000+ people. Through global mergers and acquisitions Maurice has led complex and multi-national change programmes involving 50,000+ people. He has also run a global sales business worth $24bn.
blackswan is a business integrator that uses the power of transformation to deliver improved business results and increased shareholder value through a culture of innovation, increased profitability, better market insights and enhanced an brand image. blackswan is the future – delivered.