gender balance

Photo courtesy of mikecogh(CC ShareALike)

You’ll know from reading our blogs that we’ve spoken about the lack of gender diversity in organisations before, particularly at the top. One piece we wrote focussed on this year’s Northern Powerhouse Annual Powerhouse and Conference had a complete absence of women on its list of advertised speakers. There were women on the bill, with some of them pretty big hitters around the north, but only came a measly 12.74% of all the speakers were female.

In 2016, there were twice as many men called John at the head of FTSE100 companies than there were women in charge of companies, which is pretty amazing when you think that we currently have a female Prime Minister and a woman in charge of the Scottish Parliament.

These figures may or may not be a surprise to you. But does it really matter if there aren’t many women in an organisation’s leadership team? Isn’t having the right people in the right job more important?

Of course having the right person in the right job is important, but it’s equally important to have a diverse mix of people in the team too, made up of women and men. Both genders bring different skills to the party, and offer varied viewpoints about business and the world outside of it.

There’s been many studies conducted into the differences between male and female managers, and what each one is ‘better’ at. In general, most research has found that men tend to be more strategic and have a sharper commercial focus, while women are stronger at prioritising things, multitasking and the social side of leadership.

But it’s not really about who’s better at this or that, it’s more about recognising the different strengths and styles within your organisation and leadership team. Having an appreciation of the range of skills on offer and developing your talent can help improve your organisation and how it’s run.

The benefits are backed up by research too. Organisations with good levels of gender diversity are among the most productive, according to a study carried out by Grant Thornton in 2016, mainly because of the breadth of opinions and perspectives within them. They’re better equipped to deal with the challenges of modern working life and be able to change and adapt more easily.

Interestingly, the same survey found different perceptions among male and female execs around leadership. Communication came out on top among both groups, but how to communicate was viewed very differently. Women see listening and having a two-way conversation as the most important thing whereas men very much see how they broadcast a message as key.

The message around leadership is the same though, no matter what the gender or whatever the organisation is – being a part of a diverse set of opinions and approaches is really fantastic. Make sure you value other peoples’ point of view and consider what they say, even if you don’t think in exactly the same way.

The right gender balance in a leadership is undoubtedly important, but don’t change the make-up of yours just for the sake of it though. Do, however, think about whether your organisation could benefit from more diversity.

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