We hear a lot about fake news these days, but is the news false or is how we absorb the news less than honest?
For several years we have seen articles, news programs, podcasts, Ted talks and more about the value that women bring to leadership roles and the value and importance of having women in tech positions that can make a difference.
Surveys and studies have shown the numbers – women who lead companies have highers sales and profitability and yet the disparage continues. Men still dominate in tech industry. More men still lead departments, companies and countries. Men still make more money than women in the same positions with the same background and skill set.
So where is the disconnect? If the numbers don’t lie – why aren’t more companies actively seeking to create a more diverse leadership team?
Are the numbers fake news or is how we respond to the information the false part of the equation.
C.S. Lewis, author most known for the Chronicles of Narnia also wrote a book entitled An Experiment in Criticism.
A brief description of the book is as follows;
C. S. Lewis’s classic An Experiment in Criticism springs from the conviction that literature exists for the joy of the reader and that books should be judged by the kind of reading they invite. Crucial to his notion of judging literature is a commitment to laying aside expectations and values extraneous to the work, in order to approach it with an open mind.
While his book is focused on reading and understanding literature, the same thoughts apply to how we respond to the business at hand; increasing the number of women in leadership and women in tech. Is it fake news or are we fake reading?
In order to truly appreciate the importance of information we read we must set aside three bias’ that we bring to the table:
- Historical bias. We read something – or rather in the interest of time we scan it – and we say – oh yes, I’ve read that before. I don’t need to read it again. Men make more. Yep. I’ve read that. Women leaders are successful. Yep. Know it. It is almost a sense of snobbery that we approach subjects we’ve read before and dismiss. And yet – while we may have read it before or if the information is old, it must still be considered. If we are ever going to make a change, not only do we need to approach each article or study with hungry, fresh eyes but we must also take the time to do the research to understand its importance to our lives. While the state of women in tech may not seem like an important issue to you right this minute, it will be important to your daughters and your sons in their lifetime. We can’t afford to dismiss the subject just because we’ve heard it before.
- Cultural bias. We all have a cultural bias to information and to people. “Cultural bias is the phenomenon of interpreting and judging phenomena by standards inherent to one’s own culture.” However, if we hope to make a difference in our world by embracing diversity in leadership, we must set aside cultural experiences and thoughts of “that’s how it was always done” in order to be open to change.
- Personal bias. How is this information going to impact me and my life? What’s in it for me? It is a natural instinct to bring to new information our own personal bias. However, if we are to make a difference in this world, we have to set ourselves aside to think of the bigger picture. When we lead with a diverse team we have the benefits of a wide variety of experiences and skills that will only help make the end product – the company’s success – better for everyone. Therefore, when we read or hear about the value and importance of increasing the number of women in leadership and women in tech, we must set aside our own fears, concerns, objections and embrace the information for how it can benefit all.
Creating a more gender neutral and equal work environment is the key to growth and success for any company. That isn’t fake news – that is fact.
Therefore, as we work toward equality in all aspects of our business lives we must set aside our own bias’ and work together to create a more diverse work environment.
JJ DiGeronimo, a speaker, author and thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM, empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
Check out JJ’s new award winning book Accelerate Your Impact by downloading three free chapters.