Today’s is Women’s Day. A day to reflect on the differences still existing between men and women all around the world. Sometime I hear that such a day should be “useless”, as real equality has been achieved. An assertion that is really far from reality, and not only because of less developed countries, but also because it is exactly in the Western world that this “equality” has not been achieved. It’ easy to see in the infographic put together by the European Parliament. Average salary of women is still 1/3 lower than that of men, and the percentage of female CEOs ( 2,4%) is a key demonstration of the still existing difference among gender.
In a period of crisis like the present one, an argument that often is put forward is that “equality” is expensive. According to this theory men are simply more productive at this point, and that is why even if advancements have been made in the 90’s, today in many countries there’s a step back. But this is severely wrong. Because evidence demonstrates that it’s thank to women that many countries are able to survive through these turbulent times. And the European parliament itself celebrated this fact with a photographic show titled “Women’s response to the economic crisis“.
I believe that many errors have been made by all actors in the recent years. Politics had to play an active role in the gender equality issue, but it used it mainly as a PR element. I guess that today many politicians will fill their mouths of new promises and analyses of how good they have done. A lot of mistakes have been committed by women themselves. I’ve been observing so many times female managers being the strongest oppressors of women’s rights on the workplace…
However, finding whose fault it was will not solve the issue. Looking ahead, and finding out what can be done in real terms will allow women to really gain that equality they deserve. But there is only one approach that works: recognizing the difference that exists between man and woman, and the added value that their individual contributions bring to the effectiveness of an organisation.
Rudyard Kipling put it in an extraordinarily powerful yet synthetic way:
Woman’s guess is much more accurate than a man’s certainty.
Just an example of the clear added value that women can bring to reality. I work in the HR domain, an area were often women are relative majority in numbers. Yet often I feel the amount of “masculine” ideas is still way too present, independently from the gender of the perpetrator. So what? Well as a manager I always feel the need to have the views of both women and men in my team. Because of the different perspectives they can give on an issue, the different ways of approaching problems, the different outcome they can reach on a reasoning, the different levels of empathy they can express. But what if I find a woman that simply tries to express the male point of view? Unluckily it happens more than often.
So, a wish for today. Women, let’s stop looking for the “Wonder Woman” effect mocking up “Superman”. The world is full of women that “act like a man”. For certain people this has become a compliment. Not for me. Abdicating to your key talents and personality assets means you are making your own life a lot more difficult. And I suspect miserable too. Work in expressing your key value, and put them openly on the table, in any discussion. Work with your fantasy and your taste for practicality. Express yourself in all what you do. I’m not sure this is going to be able to solve the gender imbalance worldwide, but for sure it will help you get valued by your boss, your manager, your stakeholders.
So, Happy Women’s Day.