The world needs diversity

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Traditional patriarchal structures must give way to more diverse approaches that
blend masculine and feminine values if we want to solve the new generation of
economic, social and environmental crises in the world.


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By Pam Moore
What our recession-weary, environmentally-challenged and stressful world really
needs - is more women at the top - not only in businesses but at the helm of
countries as well.

According to the World Economic Forum?s Global Gender Gap Report, 2011, "Countries
and companies will thrive if women are educated and engaged as fundamental pillars
of the economy, and diverse leadership is most likely to find innovative solutions to
tackle the current economic challenges and to build equitable and sustainable
growth.'

In South Africa - as in indeed in the rest of the world - women are still largely
absent from positions of real power in business. The 2012 South African Women in
Leadership Census, Business Women?s Association found continued disparity of
women in leadership positions with 79% of executive managers and 83% directors of
JSE companies and State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) being men.
The latest Harvard Business Review (January/February 2013) list of Top
Performing CEOs Globally has only two women in the top 100. But predictions for the
future are encouraging. US based Frontier Communications Corp anticipates that
female CEOs at Fortune 1000 companies will double by 2017 and that the UK will
have more female millionaires than male ones by 2020, according to the Centre for
Economics and Business Research.
Currently, both men and women in business still venerate the hero leader. The
same Harvard Business Review list celebrates increased market capitalisation and
shareholder returns as the successes of a single person at the top of the pyramid:
Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Yun Jong-Yong, Roger Agnelli and so on. Our own Jacko
Maree, who recently retired as CEO of Standard Bank Group, is attributed in the
press with increasing the share price from R21 to R118 and market capitalisation from
R30bn to R190bn and he has been the recipient of a host of awards and accolades
since 2004. Pyramidal structures, personal branding - these are all modern
incarnations of masculine values. We live and work with them and mostly we all
subscribe to them.
But research indicates that the techno economic infrastructure of modern
society requires a blending of masculine and feminine values. It?s not just-a-nice-to-
have or a condescension to pressures from women. Patriarchy cannot take us where
we need to go next to solve the economic, social and environmental crises that we
face.
The task ahead is two-fold: firstly, to bring more women into leadership positions
and secondly, to change organisational forms to reflect the integration of the
masculine and the feminine.
Because workplaces are traditionally structured around the needs of men and are
slow to change, many women are opting out of the leadership role in the formal
workplace to start their own businesses. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)
Report carried out by the UCT Graduate School of Business on women's
entrepreneurial activity, found that relative to 34 countries around the world, almost
as many women as men are starting businesses in South Africa.
The demands placed on women by society and their own natures are different
from those placed on men and further transformation of corporate cultures is required
to accommodate these often conflicting but legitimate demands. A recent survey
conducted with 2 443 professional women in America suggested that companies need
to allow for the parallel needs of establishing a successful career and starting a
family, create high profile reduced hour jobs or increased flexibility of working hours in
the day, increase flexibility in the 'arc of a career' to leave and re-enter and provide
outlets for altruism - all without attaching stigma or prejudicing promotion and career
opportunities.
In South Africa, just like in the US, many women need to work. The costs of big
ticket items - homes, tertiary education and medical costs are escalating and are not
provided by the state as they are in many European countries. The findings of this
survey probably have a great deal of validity here.
A third - and vital - part of loosening the stranglehold of patriarchy is for both
men and women to build wiser and healthier personal leadership for a sustainable
world. Wiser and healthier by definition develops and integrates mature masculine
and mature feminine values and embraces diversity.
How to get there looks the same in 2013 as it did in 1990. American scientist
Peter Senge has written that one of the key disciplines required for wise leadership is
personal mastery. People with a high level of personal mastery are acutely aware of
their ignorance, their incompetence, their growth areas but paradoxically they are
deeply self-confident.
"They are deeply inquisitive, committed to seeing reality more and more
accurately. They feel connected to others and to life itself. Yet they sacrifice none
of their uniqueness." Added to this they are able to experience the full range of their
emotions, are passionate, believe in their ability to influence events in their lives and
therefore take responsibility. They are not always scapegoating and blaming others
when things go wrong. Their lives are in balance, they are creative and inventive
and they are talented at self-observation and self-reflection.
But our problem is that there is no shortage of excellent leadership models,
frameworks, theories, courses, programmes, workshops, seminars, conferences,
books, e-learning to develop personal mastery. The problem is that it is just so much
hard work.
"It is enormously difficult for a human being to develop to full potential. The
struggle with the infantile within us exerts a tremendous "gravitational? pull against
achieving the full adult potential,' write Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette in their
book: "King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature
Masculine'.

So most of us give up. We are comforted that we fit in with those around us. We
become weary of challenging the status quo and the effort of working on ourselves.
We focus on winning, beating the competition, being number one or two in the game,
creating competitive advantage because it?s a lot simpler than doing all of this and
still considering the bigger issues of global sustainability and impact of our business
and our leadership in a wider context.
Of all the resources available to assist this endeavour, coaching is probably one
of the most valuable because its core methodology is creating the opportunity for
self-observation and self-reflection. Coaching also acknowledges an adult
development model. No matter how bright or how well-educated an executive may
be; development is lifelong through a series of predictable stages. However, growth
through the stages and maximising potential at each adult milestone can be
accelerated by sustained intervention. Coaching can help executives to develop
practices and to keep at them.
Through these kinds of interventions it is possible to diversify business and
government and bring about the shift in culture that our world clearly needs.

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