The business world is well overdue for a wakeup call when it comes to understanding the true value women bring to the table. I’m a woman in a top executive position. The reality is that it can be lonely in that position. There is a noticeable lack of female role models in the type of business I’m in, which has the unfortunate tendency to make women feel like they have to assume male characteristics because that is what surrounds them—successful men. Of course men have their strengths and positive traits, but women have their own unique strengths and perspectives as well.
Think of it this way: You have several executives sitting around a conference table—men on one side and women on the other. In the middle of that table is a cube. There are a lot of sides and angles to that cube. The men have one view of the cube from their side of the table and the women see the cube from a completely different angle. The men and women each only see a portion of the cube, even though they think they are seeing the whole picture. Both perspectives are equally valuable and, taken together as a whole, create a synergy of ideas and insight much stronger as a whole.
As a business owner or leader, understanding the value of a blended perspective from both men and women is essential. The traditional single-perspective business model is fading away. Those who still follow that model are frozen in the past. Diversity is key. Look at today’s entrepreneurial companies—they are led by women AND men and are shaping a new business world that is moving in the right direction. Men and women do not make decisions the same, talk to clients the same or approach issues the same. They just don’t. Anyone who sits down in front of me and thinks otherwise is stuck in an outdated way of doing things. How can a company cater to a diverse consumer base effectively without having a diverse perspective in their organization? Are five men going to make a great skin care product for 40-year-old women? They might think so, but honestly they’re going to miss a lot of the details. Would you go to a man and ask them to tell you what it’s like to have a baby? Again, they might be able to give you the basics, but they are definitely going to miss many, many of the finer points!
Too many times I’ve seen women feel pressure in the workplace to hide their emotions and not act like, well, women. Those of us who are in a position to make a difference need to put a stop to this phenomenon by standing up as the role models we needed—but did not have—when we started out. We need to embrace the emotions, instincts, intensity, and intuition we bring to the table. Our unique perspective as women is so critical and necessary in today’s business world.
Bottom line? Find a company that values your perspective as a woman. The experiences and unique insight we bring are vital to the long-term success of an organization. Women have a lot of purchasing power in the marketplace, so it makes sense that women should have a prominent role in the businesses that serve them. Be yourself and bring your unique perspective to the table. Recognize that the contributions you make to your organization are real and valuable and okay to put out there. If there is any one message I want women to remember, it is that being themselves in the business world is a very good thing.
Photo by Ilya Pavlov
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- Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Like Men in the Work Place - September 13, 2016