I love this clip from I Love Lucy. When I came across it again recently, it made me think about the fast-moving production line that is leadership. It also made me laugh because Lucy is desperately trying to get sh*t done!
Being responsible for an organisations sustainable growth and success can feel like managing an ever faster moving production line of opportunities, challenges and risks.
Leaders are increasingly dealing with a world that is characterised by VUCA and anyone who aspires to leadership must become adept at managing and leading in this VUCA world. To be considered effective at leadership, they must demonstrate their skill at taking action, with an eye on the present as well as the future. (Yep, you need to be able to get sh*t done.) No new news there.
The Australian Scorecard
Speaking of old news, the Australian scorecard on gender equality tells us that leadership in Australia is dominated by men. In fact, if you are white, male and named Andrew, then you are highly likely to be a CEO in Australia. Conrad Liveris stated in May 2019 that “it is deeply concerning that there were more men with the same first name at the helm of the nation’s top 200 listed companies than there were female chief executives.”
There are 186 male CEOs in the ASX200. This gender imbalance in leadership is replicated in sport, with 93% of sports CEOs being male. I also find this deeply concerning.
I know all too well that not all leaders understand and agree with the importance of creating a gender balanced workplace. I also know that many leaders want to do the right thing about a gender balanced workplace, but are struggling to make that happen (VUCA vs. GSD?)
Effective leaders want a workplace that works for women because they know, like I do, that a gender balanced workplace will be more financially successful, deliver greater value to shareholders, have a reduced risk profile and frankly, becomes a much nicer place to work, for everyone.
Getting Sh*t Done
For all of the reported reasons, it is vitally important we shift the dial on women’s participation in the workforce and in leadership. For leaders, their people, customers and shareholders, it is equally as important that they move their organisations gender diversity scorecard from conversation to action. Leaders and organisations must get sh*t done on gender equal and inclusive workplaces, because the time for talk is well and truly over.
How do you get sh*t done if you are a leader managing in a VUCA business world?
- Make a visible, verbal, ongoing commitment to a gender balanced organisation;
- Be cognizant of your own mindsets and those of your leaders about women and leadership;
- Confront the brutal truths about your organisations gender balance performance;
- Assign resources (money, people, time) to solving the problem;
- Hold your executives accountable to deliver against organisational gender targets.
GSD Like a Two Year Old
Ever had a two-year old in the house? If so, you’ll know that they learn to ask why. A lot! I encourage ALL leaders to invoke their inner two-year old child and start asking lots of ‘why’ questions to GSD on gender equality in their workplace.
Why? (see what I did there?) Because to start your organisations journey towards a workplace that works for women, then you need to know where you are starting from.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Do we have gender balance at the non-executive, executive, senior management and across our workforce? If not, where are the gender gaps?
- How do women feel about working here?
- Why do women leave our company?
- Why do women join our company?
- How many women have been promoted versus men?
- What is our parental leave policy for primary and secondary carers?
- What is our policy (and what really happens) on flexible work?
- Do we have a gender pay gap? If so where and why?
- Do we have a strong culture about combatting sexual harassment in the workplace?
- How diverse are our suppliers and are our procurement policies up to scratch?
Once you have asked, and received the answers, to these questions, you will have confronted the brutal truths about women in your workplace. Then, its time to take action and get sh*t done to create a workplace that works, for everyone!
This article was originally published by Advancing Women, and authored by Michelle Redfern
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