The gender balance: Growing a generation of more balanced leaders
Gender balance in the workplace is a discussion that comes up time and time again, and more often than not it is reduced into a simple box ticking exercise – have we hired enough women this year? However, it’s beyond equality and gender gap, but more about building a society that creates strong and balanced leaders.
That is why it is so essential to have companies that push for a change in perspective and shifting the narrative from gender centric to human centric, where the focus is on building more balanced leaders. It’s not about men or women, but rather the masculine and feminine as attributes. Studies show that we need different models of leadership in order to innovate and to tackle the current challenges we face as societies and businesses. We need to stop perceiving gender balance as a women’s issue, and focus on the many imbalances in our work environments and societies. To create positive change, we require leaders who can engage in a discussion that looks beyond gender, race, and ethnicity, but focuses on the current and future.
Change is happening with women taking up senior roles in multimillion dollar companies, however that is a small segment, and we are far from achieving the balance we need as societies. As individuals we need to understand why we need both female and male professionals at decision making tables, not for female empowerment but for raising generation that will excel in bringing the best out in people and spearhead innovation.
More than ever before, communities are the heart of decision making, for businesses, and governments. In a world where individuals are super-informed and globally exposed, by contributing to a balanced local community, businesses gain the trust and loyalty of customers.
When they support potential local customers and the causes they care about, they can foster a sense of unity between the business and the community. The same can apply to the relationship between governments and the citizens they serve, the more balanced are the communities, the more confidence is in the government, and the more engagement there is from those communities to contribute to achieve the vision and mission of the government.
With that said it is important to note, that for any change to be sustainable, it needs to happen at three levels: personal, interpersonal and organizational. Starting from leaders, who need to be self- aware about the change they want to drive, and what needs to change in them first. You need to be engaged with heart, head and hands, cascading it down to the team, a role modeling approach to leadership is more effective than the most sophisticated strategy. People hear what you say, but they also observe what you do. Engaging others will be the next step. No one resists their own ideas, if everyone feels engaged into driving a positive change, the likelihood of them resisting that change is minimized. Be clear about the purpose of change and how it will be impacting everyone positively before you start implementing, to avoid the feeling of “imposed change”. Create change agents/champions to help with positive influence, and see it transform teams.
Current leaders need to push for gender balance in order to grow the next generations that will build societies in an even more efficient and progressive ways.
About the author
Hanane Benkhallouk, Founder of Tawazoun, is a multi-industry consultant with broad scope of expertise. She’s a business practitioner with over 18+ years of professional experience holding senior managerial positions in Fortune 500 companies, government and non-profit organizations, across a multitude of industries from financial services, real estate investments, to retail and franchise development, and global markets, within Europe, U.S. and the MENA region. She also co-founded Sustain Leadership consultancy, a boutique firm specialized in strategic management, innovation, and transformation management, which features a client portfolio including, major multinationals, as well as local players.