Deadly Sin: Women and men are indeed different; but they actually have much more in common than we like to recognise. We focus on gender difference because it’s sexy, it gets headlines – ‘it helps me understand why she’ll always be the Venus to my Mars’. To this point, forward thinking companies spearhead programmes to help male managers appreciate traditionally ‘female skills’ such as listening and collaboration. This is easy and convenient as it offers a rationalisation as to why all the women gravitate towards Marketing and HR and all the men into Operational and Technical roles.
Truth Time: Just because we encourage people to value difference doesn’t mean they will. The modern workplace still rewards the determined individual who saves the day over the team player who ensures mistakes aren’t made in the first place. Unless your company has ways of measuring and rewarding those who facilitate group cohesion; ‘an invisible job’ routinely performed by women – valuing difference will continue to channel women into roles with limited C-suite access and reinforce increasingly dated stereotypes.