September is awash with national holidays celebrating working women:
There’s Native Women’s Equal Pay Day on September 12; National Police Woman’s Day, September 16; International Equal Pay Day, September 18; and American Business Women’s Day, September 23.
International Equal Pay Day could easily get lost on the list, but it shouldn’t. The fact that there is an International Equal Pay Day means that, per the United Nations at un.org, “Across all regions, women are paid less than men, with the gender pay gap estimated at 23 per cent globally. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls continues to be held back owing to the persistence of historical and structural unequal power relations between women and men, poverty and inequalities and disadvantages in access to resources and opportunities that limit women’s and girls’ capabilities. Progress on narrowing that gap has been slow. While equal pay for men and women has been widely endorsed, applying it in practice has been difficult.”
And regarding the American workforce, The Wall Street Journal recently analyzed federal data compiled by the Education Department which showed that “… from 2015 and 2016 graduates showed that disparities among male and female college graduates appeared within three years. In almost half of the programs, male graduates’ median earnings topped women’s by 10% or more….”
Who’s on first?
In the 1930s the comedy duo, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, regaled audiences with the hilarious burlesque routine, “Who’s On First?” Clumsily and humorously, they contrived to identify the members of their baseball team. Nearly 100 years later, this schtick is now iconic in the annals of sports humor. But from a business perspective, it’s also rather profound, even enlightening.
The business of team building in the workplace means carefully selecting each member, identifying their strengths, validating their roles, and acknowledging their value to the team. Unfortunately, the quest to be first in the pecking order, means that some members are trampled during the stampede up the corporate ladder. And many of those victims are women.
Today, it’s only “politically correct” for companies to declare their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion—but few executives are willing to put their policies, procedures, and actions where their mouths are.
Currently, the desire to elevate women into key leadership roles is not backed up by the will to move aggressively. Political correctness has changed, but strategies for inclusion and equity have not. So the result is a focus on incremental changes—like removing a bandaid very very slowly—or procrastinating and not moving at all. The bottom line is that this is pretty foolish, because doing nothing can actually do a lot of damage to the bottom line.
Ultimately, resistance is futile. Progress is profitable. As noted by Lever.co:“…in today’s political and socio-economic climates, organizations that prioritize DEI and work towards elevating minority groups will win both from a business perspective and in the fierce competition for diverse talent.”
Staring in the face of reality
African American author James Baldwin once said: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
We’re already two decades into the new millennium, but American businesses are still operating like they did 40 years ago. In the cold light of day, Corporate America must wake up to the fact that team building in the workplace means training women to lead. It means humanizing management. Translation: valuing employees as assets by seeing them as human beings first.
It means normalizing transparency. Translation: risking your own humanity as a leader in order to cultivate a healthy corporate culture. And team building in the workplace of 2022 means gender parity must be translated into the norm instead of being treated as a liability.
Game changing reality check
The game has changed and so have the team members. Women in the workplace must be set up and supported to lead and succeed—and this will require a dramatic paradigm shift in leadership styles and training, HR policies, and promotions.
Recently Ashley Levesque, Vice President of Marketing at the SaaS-based Engagement Marketing Company, Banzai, made a powerful observation and a compelling prediction. According to this female influencer, “Currently, women are trained to reach leadership positions the way men reach leadership positions—through competition for power.
“However, as more employees and organizations are shifting toward more purpose-driven, people-centered business models (thanks to COVID), I believe the construct of leadership will change. Instead of fighting for power, leaders will advocate for purpose – which is where women excel. Instead of the future leaders being trained to emulate men, they will be trained to emulate women.”
Leading through change
Even in baseball, as the game takes a turn for the worse, a team has to adapt to the situation and adjust its approach. For example, a seasoned pitcher knows when to use a curveball, a splitter, or a knuckleball.
One of the greatest women of our time, Oprah Winfrey, said,
“’The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” Magnovo can help lead you through the changes your company needs to make in order to discover the untapped greatness among your whole workforce—including women.