From Bias To Equality
Recently I had the privilege of interviewing Sandra D’Souza, (CEO/Founder – Ellect, Gender Equality Advocate, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, Speaker, Author). Our discussion was based around her new Amazon BEST SELLER “From Bias to Equality”.
This is a topic of interest and I was keen to learn about some of Sandra’s discoveries during her journey with this book. Some of the findings in this book may surprise you. The stats of one exercise exposed an imbalance of women in leadership roles in 2022, with a disheartening level of representation, which, as Sandra pointed out, discourages potential future leaders.
Quote: “Gender equity is increasingly becoming a mainstream topic of discussion. However, people are talking about it, but few believe in it. There are still too many companies that lack gender diversity and gender parity in their leadership teams.”
Do leaders in mainstream organisations really believe in gender equity?
This can be where unconscious bias comes in. People indicate they support diversity, and their intention is to help women access opportunities, but it often becomes obvious that their views are coloured by unconscious bias. It doesn’t have to be malicious or deliberate, however cultural influences and long-standing societal norms impact on decision-making. It can be difficult to admit to this unintended prejudice but it’s a great step towards necessary change.
Sandra said: “Professional women have shared with me a discouraging pattern of discrimination in their workplace conversations with CEOs and other business leaders. While this isn’t an attempt to redefine unconscious bias, these accounts show how pervasive the issue can be.”
It was surprising to read 18 separate points (stats) relating to diversity and gender bias in the workplace. They are all relevant, important, and worthy of having the discussion around making positive change.
Why do you believe companies need more women in their businesses?
Having female leaders is not just morally right, it’s also smart business. There is research and stats to prove this. Interesting and relevant stats. Proof has come from research, consistently proving that companies with diverse executive teams outperform those run exclusively by men.
This is not an ‘anti-male’ stance, and Sandra’s book supports this but rather looks at an issue that is impacting some of the largest corporations in the world, and some of the smallest but not insignificant workplaces.
To quote Sandra “Companies that achieve greater gender diversity are also more likely to make better decisions, be more innovative be better able to manage risk, and are better able to attract and retain top talent. This is because today’s employees want to work for an organization that values diversity and is committed to promoting equality.”
How can CEOs drive change around gender equality within their organisation?
You have heard the term that any company is only as good as its employees. In the context of being ‘successful’ it can sometimes only come down to the financial bottom line, however, there are people in and behind every corporation on the planet and they are the most valuable element in all cases.
Some CEOs have indicated they have a goal around achieving gender equality but did not have the resources to make this a reality.
These 5 points from the book touch on the most important aspects of achieving this goal.
- Assessing your values and beliefs.
- Securing support from the board chair.
- Incorporating targets and values into the strategic plan.
- Empowering your leadership team.
- Understanding the importance of diverse and inclusive interview panels.
Each of these has detailed supporting documentation to show how to put these strategies into practice. They are almost obvious, simple, and practical, so it’s worth considering why they have not already been explored to this degree.
What does the future look like regarding gender equality?
One of the questions Sandra asked a CEO she interviewed was:
“What would you like to see in future workplaces for your children?”
This is such a great question and something I had also considered. Have we thought about the future and the impact of our existing mindset and the boundaries we hold around our current thinking patterns? What is the impact of not changing? Sometimes it’s fear-based thinking, both from male and female leaders, but this must change if we are to have continued growth.
When we consider the impact on future generations, have we given thought to how our beliefs and actions today will impact the way business is done around the world? If we haven’t then we need to.
The numerous interviews in this book provide valuable insights from some of the world’s most influential business leaders, who share their experiences and knowledge with generosity and great honesty.
In speaking with Sandra about her book and the purpose behind it, I discovered so many issues and challenges women currently face in todays fast moving corporate world, and although I coach women in business and in the corporate sector, the findings, and statistics I discovered while reading this book surprised me. Not in a good way.
Collaborating with women in leadership is enriching, however, we now need to encourage more support for these emerging leaders both from male and female colleagues.
If we want the best, we need to grow the best. Develop the best. Honour the best, regardless of gender. It’s time, not just for change, but for action around that change.
Suzanne Glendenning, Executive Coach, Leadership Coach,
Quantum Results Coaching International www.quantumresults.com.au
Acknowledgment: Sandra D’Souza. Ellect CEO. Ellect.com.
Link to the book: https://frombiastoequality.com/.