Empowering Women

Why do the statistics about the percentage of women in senior management and on boards never change? There are enough opinions to argue why furlong. We have chosen to identify some visions to guide us all as we make our leap into a 50/50 equity table.

1. Mentor-ship transforms power. Build a mentor-ship framework that ensures that power is passed down and circulated. 

2. Set the right ground rules to hiring: Unbiased recruitment process - job postings is a useful tool to accomplish that goal. New data suggest subtle language changes in job postings could be a reason why.  Words like "fast-paced", "goal-getting", "manacial" etc., will more likely attract more men than words like "collaborative" or "family",  Also keeping texts colors gender neutral will ensure it appeals to both audiences. 

Changing the words you use won't change your culture overnight, but getting consistent and intentional about language does create accountability for teams to aim for the environment that we're all aspiring to  —  and that's the first step to getting there.

3. Focus on interest and goals and balance as such- channel your "personal board of directors" framework. Consider treating these relationships the way a company might interact with its board members or and individual would, the influential people in his/her life. 

4. Overcoming paradox of exposure with an inclusive decision-making Feedback system. Often times we develop our decision making criterion based on our own level of exposure or knowing or bias. This can be overcome by including second and third opinions that are completely different from yours, during these decision making processes.

5. Encourage more female leaders. We have implemented our work-study model of placing Leader to Learner (i.e. a female mentor to every girl) in order to achieve this. Some studies indicate that the deficit ratio to more women being on boards is due to lack of more women making it up the door-steps of the boardrooms. We must improve the climb. Mentor-ship is an incredible career accelerator therefore we suggest this framework for every organisation seeking to achieve 50/50 equity. 

6. Cross - gender pairing. We believe strongly in mentor-mentee relationship being a two-flip switch. Experience gives mentors a different vantage point to see a lot of what you, as a mentee can offer. However,  the patterns of experience may vary based on gender. By cross-gender pairing, innate blind spots due to gender-orientation are reduced and potentials of person are maximized as a result of associations.

One of the bias to hiring more women to leadership roles is the female stereotype that exists. There is the notion that women are only better suited for collaborative and community based roles while men are more suited for financial and technical leadership type roles. And in some cases, these proof to be true. However, when we practice more cross-gender pairing, these stereotypes begin to fade.

8. Treat diversity challenges as we do any innovation by allocating money and top talent to focus on researching, identifying and addressing unconscious biases within their processes and experimenting with and measuring the impact of innovation with inclusion. 

Fostering equality in any space is like managing the creative process - Become comfortable with discomfort, comfortable with innovation, comfortable with change by being open to promoting hard work and creativity; by encouraging the consideration of alternatives. - the result of which is an innovation in that space. 

We can all learn from Prime Minister Trudeau's commitment to gender-equality which forced him to look for different abilities and strengths and create an even more inclusive dynamic. Businesses must think differently for the management positions and board positions in their own organizations. We gain today in breadth and competence, and in the future, by showing younger women (and girls) what is possible. 

We also answered some of your burning questions:

Do mentors-mentees need to be in the same work environment or community for the relationship to be successful.  

Answer: NO.

We are fast moving into a very virtual world where the better communication happens via emails, phone calls or even social media conversations. The secret here is that there are regular and predictable meetings that empowers duo to come prepared, make smarter and incremental progress with the relationship in terms of mentoring impact.

What are the best ways to strike a mentor-ship relationship?

Plant the seed of trust right away with a more personal conversation. Conversation about your personal habits, interests, career goals, etc. It encourages both people to share their challenges — historical and current. It makes everyone human, emphasizes what is shared in common and is more bi-directional. It also breaks down what might be an intimidating power dynamic, and makes you feel more comfortable as peers. If a mentor-ship relation-ship isn't right for you, you will pick this up on this right away.

How do we maintain professionalism and accountability with cross-gender pairing relationship?

By having a framework of engagement. This applies to both same gender and cross-gender i.e. treating it as you would a meeting with your boss. Ensure you set meeting schedule, prepare google docs with your questions and for pre-collaborations, if necessarily, create slide deck or checklists.

 

...until our next visions for woman, 

Dorcas Onuh

 

Dorcas Onuh