The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is #BalanceForBetter. While there may be gender imbalances in various aspects of business, Leanne Pilkington looks further into why this is the case for our current generation of women.
On International Women’s Day, there will be plenty written about diversity targets, quotas and the general lack of women in leadership roles.
And there are a lot of reasons for that. Sure, lack of flexibility plays a part for women that have children, and even some without kids or elderly parents to care for. But there is way more to it than that.
I had a recent performance management conversation with a 21 year old member of my team and her words to me were, “I just don’t aspire to be like you”.
To which I responded, “Successful? Respected? A leader? Happy? Which of them don’t you aspire to?”
The thing is, she has seen what I do and has decided it’s not for her. And, as much as I love my job, I guess I don’t really blame her.
What this generation is looking for (in general, because we can only ever generalise in situations like this) is not what we have looked for in the past. When we see people making a career and a living out of being an Instagram influencer, blogging from various parts of the world and starting small businesses…in comparison, leading a corporate business doesn’t really sound like a lot of fun!
I have had a number of people suggest that my next move could (or should) be into politics, but like my young team member, I don’t aspire to that. I look at what women in that arena need to contend with and it leaves me cold. Worse than cold. I wouldn’t do it to myself, or my family.
So what is the answer? I wish I knew. But when research tells you1 there are savings of over $1 billion to be made by employing more females in flexible roles, and that businesses with diversity in leadership outperform those without it (that includes ALL types of diversity, not just gender), it’s an important conversation to continue.