The Emerging Female-Friendly 21st Century: A Gender Revolution is Under Way
Amid the debris of the current global economic cataclysm, men are facing their shattered dreams—and those of others who entrusted their savings to them. From the sidelines, powerful women, capable of not only cleaning up the mess but also seizing the spoils, are emerging worldwide.
While men in charge of the stock market, subprime loans, derivatives and imploding hedge funds led us to the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression and then sought record-breaking bailouts from taxpayers, some noticed that women were not only quietly managing risk and strategizing long-term, but also achieving more positive milestones. Others noticed that women were largely absent and wondered if their greater moderating skills might have averted disaster. A meme that made the rounds: “The optimal bank would have been Lehman Brothers and Sisters.”
Since the beginning of this millennium, we have witnessed a worldwide swell of achievements by women, marked by important signposts. In 2010, for the first time in history, women in the male-breadwinner-dominated United States made up more than half of the workforce, machista Latin America elected three female presidents and post-genocidal Rwanda became the first country with a female majority in its parliament. Another telling first occurred in bellwether Hollywood when Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for best director, notably beating out ex-husband James Cameron’s fantasy film Avatar with her gritty war movie The Hurt Locker. In 2011, IBM announced the appointment of Chief Executive Virginia Rometti, the first woman to run a Fortune 20 company and the most prominent woman in the global private sector—serving both as a symbol of and a catalyst for female ascendancy.
But this story is not just about rising numbers. It’s more fundamentally an economic story of how, as with so much in our world—demographics, technology, the Great Global Recession—has turned everything we know about how things work upside-down. Women have proven they are as well or better equipped than men to navigate the realities of the newly diverse, globalized, knowledge-based service economy. Before we make this case, a few words on the premise of cultural and gender diversity we use here.
The Golden Rule: The One Who Has the Gold Makes the Rules
We base our diversity work on a fundamental premise that an organization, community or national culture is shaped by the values—and more specifically the interpretations of those values—of those in charge.
The World According to Men and Women
We acknowledge that in the countless books and articles written about male and female management styles, considerable difference of opinion exists among credible thinkers.
The Great Shift
When women first entered the white-collar workforce in large numbers, in the 1980s, they had no choice but to take jobs in corporate cultures formed in the hierarchical, military model. For the most part, these women adapted.
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