As I look at the culture that we have created in our corporate world, I am minded of the Suffragette movement that campaigned relentlessly to enable women to engage as equals in the political and wider world.
And as I am reminded of their struggle, with the papers and media rightly celebrating 100 years of women being able to vote in the UK, so I consider the vital energy and attitude that women bring into the work place.
But I am saddened too. Saddened by the still current inequality that exists in so many forms. Some explicit and obvious like unequal pay. Others more subtle, but still penetrating, in the arts, political, corporate and sporting sub-conscious bias; the nod and the wink, the knowing smiles, the “that’s just the way we do it round here” that favours the life journey of the man.
In all my experience, in business, adventures and expeditions, it is when the “female energy” and the “male energy” work in unison that we gain true collective brilliance. Like yin & yang, day & night, black & white, we need a balance of both. It is not one being better than the other; there is no judgement. It is recognising the difference in the female and male energy and taking that “life force” of combination across all aspects of our lives.
When seeking to answer the question “So what is it that makes some groups obviously more successful and more productive than others?” The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research team found 3 common factors. Firstly, the productive team showed high degrees of social sensitivity to each other – a developed sense of empathy. Secondly, the successful groups gave roughly equal time to each other, so that no one voice dominated, but neither were there any passengers. And thirdly, the more successful groups had more women in them! I suggest that the third is driving the first and second.
So why is this?
Let us consider the life of a bull elephant for a moment. This massive beast is dominated by his own ego; his drive to mate creates an ethos of strength, aggression, territory, posturing, dominance. It is fight after fight in a bloody life. The UK’s national bird, the Robin, is seen as cute and friendly. But the red-breasted male is no different from the bull elephant; strongly territorial it will attack anything red as it seeks to impose its will on its locality.
Whereas the herd matriarch, the female elephant, is instinctively driven to nurture and protect. Her whole life is dominated by a desire to care for the herd, to help the young ones grow, look after the elders and develop a strong family bond that serves them all. Her will is to pass on her knowledge and wisdom through her example and teaching. The brown female robin will tend the eggs, feed the young and devote her entire life to the next generation’s welfare and success.
I believe you could analyse the deep motivation that drives the behaviour of most species, and certainly our closest ancestors, and find the same.
So are we humans not fallible to respond to circumstance similarly?
Deep down are we not animals too? The men seeking power, status, dominance? To assert their will on others? It is no surprise that so many of our political leaders are men, and look at their “style”! Trump, Juncker, Assad, Putin, Kim, Zuma, Mugabe, Duterte … the list goes on and on!
And even when I work in industries predominantly staffed with women, when you look at the constitution of the executive board, well, what a surprise, suddenly it’s a man’s world. The potential for so many corporate cultures to be driven by fear & aggression forcing a compliant workforce to sacrifice their own self-worth to the machine is no accident.
What a difference we could make if we allow women to be women and bring their natural compassion to leadership across the spectrum. Running our world with a matriarchal perspective. Indeed, treating our planet with the respect she needs. Tempering the male ego, calming our bull elephant actions & reactions, bringing balance to our lopsided view.
What a difference we could make if we men tapped into our own feminine energy and within ourselves found the balance of yin & yang, of man & woman.
More ancient and indigenous populations were and are run as matriarchal societies where it was the women who ran the group, and they ran it with compassion and nurture for the group and the environment. Since man has taken over control we have created huge dysfunctions in our society and are destroying the core of life – our planet. Nations fight, religions kill, groups battle, corporations posture. Our world is full of aggression, revenge and grievance. Man’s ego dominates as we plunder and destroy at an extraordinary scale. And to be frank, I do not believe that the monotheist religions have helped, as for almost all it is solely “man” at the top. God’s a bloke! Man’s dominance is the biggest imbalance and, I believe, the biggest threat. We must focus on creating a true and more compassionate society through a more compassionate and nurturing workplace. The drive for 2018 and beyond needs to be to enable woman to take the reins, properly. Women should rule the world (again)!
I read a lovely quote saying “There will only be equality when the queue for the “ladies” is no longer than the queue for the “gents”! Toilet allocations, not only in festivals but in our towns and public spaces, are designed by men for men!
No. The suffragette journey is far from over. It has really only just begun.
Deeds, not words!
Clearly, I am expressing one side of a coin. On my life’s journey I have met some incredible men, whose compassion is beyond reproach, the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu for example, and some superb compassionate leaders who just happen to be men, brilliant men.
And I have met some, how shall I put it, “bull elephant ladies” too!!