A colleague and I were in a vibrant discussion recently about some of our own work experiences, both with clients and internally, when she mentioned a book she was reading in which the author pointed towards a future where generally “female” characteristics were given higher recognition and value in business. When we began to apply that thinking to our own experiences, we saw striking examples of that idea leading to success in moving sustainability, and in turn our clients’ businesses, forward.
Then we saw an article in GreenBiz.com where the author presents a rationale that as a female, I quite like. Instead of expecting women to exemplify male characteristics and a male-dominated approach to business, what if we all embraced characteristics that are generally documented and characterized as “feminine”? The author sums up this more female way of thinking as “… being process-oriented, collaborative, empathic, able to pursue multiple goals at once, recognize multiple truths and think across multiple generations.” I could spend all day drawing parallels to businesses that have had great success in sustainability and reputation management with that line.
The author provides reassurance to any readers experiencing discomfort at becoming more “female” in business by suggesting we come up with a catchy name for embracing this approach, which I’m certain would be an interesting exercise for brainstorming in male-dominated conference rooms across the country. My hope would be that the idea of leveraging multiple talents and approaches rather than getting on with “business as usual” gains momentum in a much more intelligent way, where leaders don’t negate some traits for others but instead leverage all characteristics from all types of people without dismissing or feeling the need to label what is different. It’s pretty exciting to imagine.