The European Union’s quota system that imposes companies to have 40% of their board-of-director seats occupied by women may be signed into law soon amid intense debate. Imposing a quota to achieve the goal may or may not work, but it does highlight a realization that more women are needed in all levels of the business hierarchy.
It makes good sense to involve women in enterprise. Their energies and viewpoints complement the male side of the business and introduce a balance of creative synergy. As education becomes increasingly accessible to men and women – at least in most parts of the world – gender orientation in the workforce becomes irrelevant, regardless of the type of product or service offered by a business. There will continue to be men in beauty salons, women in offshore oil drilling, and members of the LGBT community in every other type of enterprise.
What Women Contribute:
Men and women are vastly different as a result of familial and cultural conditioning. This difference is precisely why it makes sense to hire women. An article in a coaching site for women managers references studies by Alice Eagly, Ph.D, on how women handle teams and situations differently from men.
Dr. Eagly describes men’s leadership style as task-oriented, autocratic, and punishment-oriented while women tend to be team players, democratic and reward-oriented. Both styles work depending on the situation and the people they are dealing with.
When relating with a particularly difficult client, partner, or employee, a “good-cop-bad-cop approach” could be the solution. The diplomatic and nurturing side of a female manager can diffuse a stalemate and lead to resolution of conflict.
What Women Cause:
By their mere presence, women colleagues can cause discomfort among men whose view of the workplace is competitive and whose rules of engagement resemble those of a gladiator arena. In addition, men and women’s communication styles are very dissimilar in tone, manner, timing, and response.
In her book “A Different Voice,” Carol Gilligan states that a man’s voice tends toward autonomy and rights whereas a woman’s voice tends toward relationship and responsibility. Men follow rules; women follow connections.
Misunderstandings in the work place can be addressed during team building workshops on leadership and communication styles. When exaggeration and humor are applied in role playing exercises or games to highlight these differences, the point is effectively put across and is readily acknowledged.
What Women Want:
Like the Aretha Franklin song, women appreciate R-E-S-P-E-C-T. They want their contributions to be acknowledged and expect appropriate compensation. They are fully committed to delivering without needlessly sacrificing their work-life balance. As a business owner, you can show appreciation by getting updated on challenges that women business travelers encounter. Allow them to book for women-friendly arrangements.
- The Dubai Taxi company provides pink-roofed taxis with lady drivers for women travelling alone or at night. These taxis are available at the airport and malls. Similar options exist in Abu Dhabi and Beirut.
- Some hotels have ladies only floors with all-women staff, rooms located close to the elevators, well-lit main entrances, and a reception desk manned 24/7. Other nice details may include full-length mirrors, quality toiletries, and healthy menu options. The more responsive hotel managers train their restaurant staff to direct a solitary female diner to a discreet table where she can dine undisturbed.
- Maidenvoyage.com is a site where women travelling alone in a city can connect with other women business travelers in the area.
These are just some ways of showing your women team members that you value them. Keep in mind that other businesses are probably eyeing to pirate your human assets.
Hiring qualified women employees, managers, and board members will enhance your business. They will also challenge their male counterparts to stay sharp and productive through healthy work competition. At the very least, hiring more women would put the gentlemen on their best behavior.
(written for Hauld.com)