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Gender diversity: story behind the stats

Gender diversity: story behind the stats

Christina Stewart, CPHR, President, Client Affairs – Praxis Group Inc. Sunshine Coast, Nanaimo &

Want to inspire others toward gender diversity in your workplace? Find the story behind the stats.

In making the case for incorporating gender diversity (or any diversity) into a workplace we can draw on a multitude of studies, statistic, reports, data and information all telling us how our workplaces and our communities thrive when they are diverse. For example, time and time again McKinsey & Company, a global analytics organization, has proven the connection between diversity on boards to profitability in an organization. In their most recent 2018 study they tell us that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21 per cent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. This stat alone should be enough to send us out in droves hunting for female directors, but the stats aren’t always enough to prompt us in to action – sometimes we need the stories behind the stats.

In his book, “The Happiness Hypothesis”, Jonathan Height explains how the logical centers of the brain are like a rider trying to direct an elephant. The elephant is our emotional brain, and when there’s any contradiction between the two, the elephant is going to win almost every time. What this means is that the data only tells half the story. It will not be sufficient to win hearts and minds, to get your people, your CEO, and your organization on board with embracing diversity. Data is never enough to make change, it’s a strong story that will sway us to exploration of new theories and eventually making a move to something different.

For each of us the stories can be vastly different.  We all have our own stories to tell about gender stereotyping, gender imbalances and gender disparities at work and elsewhere. When making the business case for incorporating gender diversity wrap your information around these stories. Here are some ideas:

• Ask leaders to find and share stories about where they’ve taken a misstep regarding gender diversity or bias, how they fixed it, and what lesson they learned from it. Share widely.  Ask others to join in and post their stories to create a learning culture and one that embraces your collective humanity.  Make coming clean about your individual and collective misses a badge of honor and an opportunity for growth.

• Find a story of a diversity related client win (or loss,) and tell the story from the heart with an intention to learn and inspire action.

• Create video testimonials, particularly by the top leaders of the organization, of how diversity in gender has impacted their lives. Often with just a little bit of coaching, every leader can find a personal why.

There’s a time and a place for data, stats and facts in business, however for those of us really looking to inspire transformation in our companies and our communities, we need more stories.

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