From time to time I face conversations with other parents, colleagues or friends, I am sure you have, too. They usually start like "No, but my boys, they just love playing Lego more." and end in my facial expression that is far more edgy to be still named friendly. This easy-going, well-accepted, widely-adopted small-talk about reputed gender differences is as negligible, as it is fundamental for sticking to a society of labels and inequality.
As a mother of girls, who love playing Lego, football, and robots, I have a hard time supporting them. Here are three reasons why.
1. Diversity is about accepting others in their full range of individuality.
What comes to your mind first, when you think of diversity? Gender, age, sexual orientation, are just a few of the most common factors we put equal to a diverse workplace. But there is so much more about diversity then just mixing up the not-alikes - it's about recognizing people in their full range of individuality.
Diversity is not about getting girls to like football or boys to play ballet. It is about letting people be as their strengths call them. One of the fundamental principles of the Co-Active coaching method is the assumption that everyone is naturally resourceful, creative and whole. In other words, nobody needs to get fixed. Girls that go about football exactly as boys do are not the solution.
Labeling genders is labeling, too.
2. Diversity is way more then our individual preferences, it's about every single layer of a global society.
“Without women's full participation in leadership, our world lacks the diversity required to develop innovative solutions to our toughest, most complex problems.”
Molly Anderson, CEO of Exponential Talent
When I researched about gender, in particular, I scanned the cutting-edge research publications of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford. As a "hobby feminist" I was at first overwhelmed by the variety of research topics in this field: psychology, health, literature, history, law, anthropology, business. It seems that you cannot isolate the gender topic, it is part of every single layer of a global society.
This means that we cannot move on with all the other "stuff", if we don't "complete" the gender revolution started by our grandmothers. And the 2018 "State of the Union" on Gender Inequality shows that the "rapid progress until the 1990s" is now "slowing or stalling in the pace of change".
3. Diversity is the leadership challenge of the future.
In a global world, where digital technology is facilitating the decentralization of authority and services, leaders who embrace diversity as a unique competitive advantage will win the race for talent. Research clearly shows that diverse teams are more innovative, and companies with a more diverse workforce more productive. Having everything else handled by technology, the true real leaderships job left would be motivating a diverse team of individuals, probably distributed all over the worlds.
All in all, in a world that will increasingly less depend on hierarchy and former experience, going without diversity is just not an option. So here's what you can do.