The World Needs Women Leaders – Some Whys and Hows
by Angela Allen, author of 50-50 Gender Balance - Why We Have to "Get" It and Get it Now!
A 30 year “Wall Street” career left me with an unsettling realization of the inequities in this world, and the motivation to found Full Circle Living (FCL-not-for-profit), to help “level the playing field.” Enid Draluck is my FCL partner and my husband, Sam, also plays an important role. Our original mission was to focus awareness and resources on glaring inequities that preclude too many from having quality of life including economic disparity, disease, lack of education and employment opportunities, poor nutrition, discrimination, and to understand how they are interrelated.
Halfway through our 15 year effort we refocused, after coming to another stark realization: quality of life for all can never be attained unless women have an equal footing with men, “masculine” and “feminine” are equally valued, and the power of half the world – women- is fully unleashed.
We need “feminine” wisdom, compassion, intelligence, experience, and courage to make the best decisions on matters that affect us all, especially on important resource allocation. “Feminine” values, principles, traits and characteristics need to be equally valued and weighted in making the best informed, accurate decisions, with a balanced perspective. We need gender balance everywhere - our homes, schools, workplaces, faiths, and government.
Want to read a short version of Why? We couldn’t have hoped for better corroboration than in this recent Wall Street Journal essay by an Emory University professor entitled: “A Better World, Run by Women." Or, you could find more than you maybe want to know in FCL’s 400 page compendium "50-50 Gender Balance - Why We Have To "Get" It and Get It - Now," and we continue to compile and extensively share concrete proof of the indisputable benefits of gender balance.
Thrillingly, we have met countless kindred spirits and have collaborated with many of them, locally and globally, along the way. Most recently, we have worked on two efforts that are coming to fruition in Atlanta. First is a program that just launched at The J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University called Women Lead: Paving the Way for Women to Lead in the Global Market. It was immediately oversubscribed by high potential female students who aspire to leadership positions and know they need help with gender-based obstacles women face in the workplace.
Second, we have collaborated with Ed Baker and the Atlanta Business Chronicle – and dozens of female professional groups - to create a business e-mentoring platform in the 16 county Atlanta region, aimed at young women aged 19-29, called Women Mentor Atlanta (WMA), which will launch this year.**
Changing leadership at the top is my particular passion, and the direct route to addressing these global issues. The current reality is seriously out of whack. Facts and stats indicate the way the world is structured now is "hyper-masculine" in tone, approaches, and roles. The “glass ceiling” for women to become leaders is, stubbornly, still unacceptably low, across all sectors, despite the fact that we would all be better off with balance. In the business sector, for instance, there is verified direct, positive correlation between diverse management/boards and strong corporate performance. If women had equal voices in every decision that affects them, their families, their communities, and their nations, you can bet disparity gaps would have been closed long ago.
This is not to diminish "masculine" values and traits, but they need tempering. Solutions to the world’s problems are exceedingly complex and the only way to arrive at them is through “feminine” and “masculine” working together, with equal respect.
We have to change the Status Quo. This requires a total effort from men and women alike. We need a mindset change. We need to develop new habits. We need to commit to gender balance. Insist on gender balance in all forms. Vote for gender balance. Support gender balance. Create and maintain gender balance when recruiting, hiring, developing, appointing and promoting. Balance our conversations and thinking.
We women have the biggest role to play in expediting this change in leadership Status Quo. First things first: make any necessary internal changes – to project confidence, fully claim our space, take career risk, and seize professional opportunities. External is next. When we get in positions of authority and have the power to better allocate resources in corporate, academic, religious and government budgets, etc., we have to use that power. At every point along the way, we need to “send that elevator back down” by intentionally bringing other women along. And to celebrate: Women’s History Month is a reminder to shine the spotlight on women’s achievements, every chance we get.
Let’s all apply the gas pedal so that gender balance zooms and breaks out of the glacial speed mode. I’m getting old and, at the top of my bucket list, is to see marked leadership change before I die.
**For more information on Women Mentor Atlanta (WMA) contact firstname.lastname@example.org