To Create Gender Equality, Companies Must Open Up About Failure

To Create Gender Equality, Companies Must Open Up About Failure

I’m a firm believer that companies with global scale have an unparalleled opportunity to affect real, positive change on major issues, if we operate with a purpose that extends beyond profit. That doesn’t mean we quit pursuing growth. If anything, infusing a meaningful purpose into the business in our social age makes it more likely that the business will be incredibly successful. Today, there’s a hand-in-glove relationship between building a business that does good and building a good business. To have a purpose-driven business, you have to code that purpose into its cultural DNA.

Consider gender balance and pay equity for women in the workplace. It’s a problem that extends far beyond any business’s walls, but is also contained within them. And it won’t change without bold and consistent leadership. Change begins by looking inward.

In many ways it’s odd that, for instance, the tech industry has struggled for so long with so little progress to show for its effort. It’s beyond any doubt now that diverse teams are more thoughtful, more innovative, and better at processing information than homogeneous ones are. That alone should make everyone in tech who’s looking for a competitive edge work overtime to build diverse teams. When you compare those facts with trends in the tech industry, it becomes obvious there’s still a serious disconnect.

Another challenge stemming from the “gender disconnect” is in understanding and empathizing with customers. That’s not to say that one gender can’t ever understand the drives and motivations of another. But poorly balanced teams often never even try. For example, the first engineers testing airbags just defaulted to using larger man-sized test dummies; they never thought to test for the typically smaller frame of female passengers. It was a lethal mistake.

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