Female Brave, Not Female Blind: Part II
By Erica and Karen
Recent events have forced us to ask about the cost of gender diversity in the workplace. Do women have to risk rape or assault in order to work? Can we succeed only if we look and act like second class versions of men?
Our answer to both questions is “no.” Definitely not. Having worked with hundreds and hundreds of men over the years, we know that most are honorable, and welcome us as equal partners in the working world. Nor does that world recoil at the sight of a woman in neon. We do not have to shroud our bodies in grey suits and colorless shoes, hiding our feminine ways. Nor, by the way, does our value disappear when we reach any particular age. We have no use-by date.
Can we eliminate the risk of unwanted advances? Boorish behavior? No. The risk of stupid and unwanted behavior, expressed sexually, goes along with bringing sex into the workplace. We cannot demand protection from idiots and cads without losing our right to participate in the workforce. But we can demand consequences when stupidity strays into assault or harassment. We do not have to accept the risk of retribution if we say "no."
And while we don’t want protection from boors, we do think business should make sure that we do not face unwarranted discrimination and real risk. The rewards--for business--of full female participation are great. Having different people think about issues in different ways can only be better than relying on just a few points of view. Indeed, we believe that if women had been valued all along for their unique perspectives and judgments we would have already blown through the glass ceiling.
That does not mean that women should get jobs just to decorate the diversity scorecard. Women should be evaluated—like men—on their skills, experience, judgment and contributions. But women are different from men, and think differently from men. Women may be less linear, may have a wider lens. Business decisions will surely be better with the benefit of the thinking of both women and men. And, the data suggest, will lead to greater profit. Empirical proof of the economic value of diversity has been repeatedly demonstrated by the greater corporate profits of companies that embrace diversity.
So women must participate fully, and as women. Different views born of gender experience are critical to the texture and quality of business decisions, just as they are to other decisions we make in life, and to our values as individuals and citizens. We sense that the day is coming when these differences are appreciated and valued for what they bring to the table, to our culture, and to the bottom line. Time to celebrate!