Two organisations that I worked for in my corporate career had safety as their number one value. One of those organisations sent workers out in vans and trucks, up poles, down pits, under houses, in roofs. The other organisation had workers out on mines, oil rigs, ships and working in manufacturing environments. Both organisations wanted all workers to be safe and to go home alive at night and as healthy as they left their families and their homes that morning. We were deliberate, mindful and process-driven about keeping our people safe. I wonder if women were as important as safety back then what sort of workplace we might have had?
The leaders of those organisations, myself included, were accountable to live and breathe safety as our number one value by role-modelling deliberate, mindful, purposeful and process-driven behaviours. When it comes to building an inclusive, gender-balanced and high-performance workplace, the same behaviours apply. What if women were as important as safety in your workplace?
Some of this stuff is not rocket science. In fact, its all about discipline. Here is the way that we were deliberate, mindful and process-driven about safety:
- Safety was the first agenda item in all meetings;
- All scorecards included a measure linked to safety performance;
- Regular safety audits of the workplace, including non-field environments, were conducted;
- Recognition of best practice and celebration of great behaviours that led to safer workplaces.
As a result of deliberate, mindful, purposeful and process-driven actions by leaders, creating and maintaining safe work environments became entrenched behaviours, and as a result, the safety performance lifted.
This is pretty basic stuff to any of you that have ever worked in an environment where particularly physical safety is paramount. We know that the discipline of basic, simple, deliberate, mindful and purposeful actions work.
Think about your workplace. Then ask these ‘what if’ questions. Perhaps use these questions at your next team meeting.
- What if Gender Equality was the number one priority and value in your organisation?
- What if Gender Equality was the first agenda item for all your meetings, across the company?
- What if all your company scorecards included a measure linked to Gender Equality performance?
- What if regular Gender Equality audits of your workplace were conducted?
- What if your workplace recognised, rewarded and celebrated great behaviours that led to a Gender Equal workforce?
- What if Women Were as Important as Safety?
I wonder what your organisation would look like, feel like and perform like if there were deliberate, mindful, purposeful and process-driven actions by all leaders, by all people in your organisation to achieve gender equality?
If you want to take this to the next step, I suggest asking these 10 questions (you can download a graphic HERE)
- Do we have gender balance at the non-executive, executive, senior management levels and across our workforce?
- How do women feel about working here and why?
- Why do women leave our company?
- Why do women join our company?
- How many women have been promoted versus men?
- What is our parental leave policy for carers?
- What is our policy (and what really happens) on flexible work?
- Do we have a gender pay gap? If so where and why?
- Do we have a strong culture about combatting sexual harassment in the workplace?
- How diverse are our suppliers?
- Are our procurement policies up to scratch?
The fish rots from the head
The old saying is that a fish rots from the head. Organisations can choose to rot or flourish from the head. When organisational leaders get as deliberate, mindful and process-driven about women in their workplace as they are about safety, financial performance and customer satisfaction, they’ll start to reap the benefits of high performance, gender-equal and inclusive workplace.
I’ll quote a leader that I admire enormously; “Leaders and organisations need to be demonstrating that they are aware of 21st-century challenges.” The 21st-century challenge for leaders, at all levels, is that they must acknowledge that intersectional gender balance in organisations is no longer a nice to have. It is also no longer acceptable to have diversity and inclusion and the advancement of women tucked away, and not embedded in the strategy and operating cadence of the organisation. It is no longer the best practice to NOT value women in your workplace.
In other words, the 21st-century challenge for leaders is to be deliberate, mindful and process-driven about creating a workplace that works for (all) women. It is imperative that leaders DO focus on women in the workplace, at least as much as they do safety.
I’d love to talk to more organisational leaders about how to get deliberate, mindful and purposeful about gender equality. (By the way, deliberate, mindful and purposeful is my polite code for #GetShitDone about gender equality!)