HOW WOMEN MEAN BUSINESS
By AVIVAH WITTENBERG-COX
A Step by Step Guide to Profiting from Gender Balanced Business
Published in April 2010
The Four Steps to Gender Balance
This book is designed to provide senior managers with a clear understanding of how to approach the challenging process of shifting an old corporate culture into the modern age. Readers who follow the general guidelines and suggestions in the book will be able to set up and sustain their own successful gender balance programme. It is organised across four simple stages: Audit, Awareness, Align, and Sustain.
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AFTER THE SUCCESS OF
WHY WOMEN MEAN BUSINESS
By Avivah Wittenberg-Cox and Alison Maitland succinctly summarizes the smart business case for having more women in management and on boards: They represent half the talent and half the market, and they generate a better bottom line and better corporate governance. The authors’ “gender-bilingual” breaks the mold on “why can’t a woman be more like a man” and shows ways to achieve the advantages of balanced leadership with more women at the table as both equal and different partners with men. It’s the wave of the future.’ More
Quote by Robert A. Morris
This is one of two books written by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox that I have recently read, the other being How Women Mean Business published two years later (2010). It would be unfair to both books to suggest that one is a prequel or sequel to the other. There is much to be said for reading both, perhaps this one first, but each can – and indeed should – be judged on its own merits. At least that is the approach I now take.
In this book, Wittenberg-Cox and her co-author, Alison Maitland, state their primary objective: to explain how and why understanding the core principles and potential benefits of “womenomics” will help us to understand “the emergence of our next economic revolution.” In fact, that revolution is now underway. Its scope and depth are having an increasingly greater global impact. They suggest, and I emphatically agree, that gender is a business issue, not a “women’s issue,” as the same can also be said of parental (not maternal) rights, IT, results-driven management, process simplification, performance measurement, and onboarding. Over time, let’s all hope and then work to ensure, a term such as “womenomics” will become obsolete, perhaps even quaint, as men as well as women derive increasingly greater benefits from equal opportunity that has everything to do with merit and absolutely nothing to do with anything else.
Centuries ago, two metaphors emerged and have since become influential: the “crucible” and “the melting pot.” Sometimes both have been invoked in a discussion of how immigrants “melt” into their new culture in the United States, as Crevecoeur describes it in his Letters from an American Farmer (1782). I rejected the concept of a melting pot when I first encountered a lengthy discussion of it in 1970, in Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s Beyond the Melting Pot. Then and now, I reject this metaphor in favor of others, notably the salad or better yet, the symphony, and certainly much prefer those metaphors when acknowledging the diversity among women and men and when affirming the great value of such diversity. Differences between and among people should not separate them; rather, they should enrich and strengthen them.
Throughout their lively and eloquent narrative, Wittenberg-Cox and Maitland examine a range of major challenges, opportunities and issues. Just in Chapter One (“Womenomics”), for example, they explain:
o What “womenomics” means…and could provide
o Why women are “guarantors of growth”
o How organizations and individuals can be come “gender-bilingual”
o The cost of not being “gender-bilingual”
o The nature and extent of economic impact of three 21st century forces (i.e. weather, women, and the worldwide web)
There is also an abundance of valuable information, insights, and wisdom in each of the other chapters.
They also make brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices. For example, “Tips” on recruiting women Page 47), promoting women (67), tapping into the female market (100), and managing gender differences (127). She also provides 11 mini-case studies, six of them in Chapter Five (“Seven Steps to Successful Implementation”): Hands-on Experience, Role Reversal, Opening eyes, Lloyds TSB’s multi-pronged approach, Schlumberger: A bold new approach to gender, and Bain & Company: Women hold the key, but men control the lock. The focus of all this material is on what can be learned from real people in real situations as they struggle to formulate and then implement programs and related initiatives to achieve “gender-bilingual” fluency.
The revolution to which Wittenberg-Cox and Maitland frequently refer offers almost unlimited opportunities to those who – regardless of gender – really do “mean business” in terms of principles as well as profits…non-negotiable values as well as adding value to the customers they are privileged to serve. It is by no means a coincidence: companies that are “gender bilingual” are the most highly-admired, best to work for…and yes, inevitably, they are also the most profitable.
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out How Women Mean Business as well as Neil Howe’s The Fourth Turning and Rebecca Costa’s The Watchman’s Rattle.
TRANSLATED ACROSS THE WORLD
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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Gender is a business issue, not a “women’s issue.”
Never before has there been such a confluence of international attention to the economic importance of women. Their position as consumers, employees and leaders is being recognised as a measure of health, maturity and economic viability.
How Women Mean Business talks about the four steps to gender balance. This book is designed to provide senior managers with a clear understanding of how to approach the challenging process of shifting an old corporate culture into the modern age. Readers who follow the general guidelines and suggestions in the book will be able to set up and sustain their own successful gender balance programme. It is organised across four simple stages: Audit, Awareness, Align, and Sustain
AUDIT: Business leaders eager to effect change often rush too far ahead too quickly. It is very important to ensure first that there is a good understanding of where a company is coming from on this issue, what has been accomplished, and what lessons are to be learned to date, both internally and externally. So, the first part of the book covers the Audit Phase, incorporating three chapters on understanding the issue internally and externally.
AWARENESS: The second phase concerns Awareness, ensuring that senior managers understand why gender balance matters. This section is about leaders deciding what the business case for gender balance really is in relation to the company’s broader strategic goals. Then it means learning the language of women as well as men, leading to gender bilingualism. It ends with the framing of an action plan, which has a chapter of its own.
ALIGN: Once the leadership is convinced and convincing on the issue, companies are ready to adapt the systemic underpinnings of their organisations by identifying and rooting out subconscious obstacles leading to a more gender balanced meritocracy. The Alignment Phase is about changing the company’s DNA by embedding new processes and systems in training, talent, and marketing.
SUSTAIN: Finally, companies need to use clear and effective measures, reward structures, and communications approaches to maintain the change process. This is covered in the last section called Sustain.
EXCERPT COMING SOON
Why Women Mean Business takes the economic arguments for change to the heart of the corporate world. Women today are a majority of the talent pool and make up to 80% of consumer purchases. It explains everything every executive needs to know – in a single, concise volume.
- Understand WHY companies that adapt to women will become all-round employers of choice, as well as more effective 21st century marketers
- See why many current approaches to gender have not worked and why we need a new perspective, recognizing that women are both equal and different.
- Compare policies and approaches around the world, with surprising results
- Hear from business leaders such as Niall FitzGerald (Reuters), Carlos Ghosn (Renault/Nissan) and Anne Mulcahy (Xerox) on the gender issue