The call is old and tired, isn’t it? Why girls? Why now? What’s wrong with the status quo? The answer is the same - because there comes a time when there simply is no choice, when we can no longer sustain being out of balance. It takes too long to regain our footing when we slip on paths deeply sloped either direction. We need a strong anchored playing field where everyone can bring their “A game” to the table, where everyone both receives and contributes economically, educationally, in the board rooms, on the senate floor and in the global marketplace. That is the mark of a socially responsible, conscious, progressive world.
I have worked as a criminal prosecutor and trial attorney followed by years in the international corporate arena. As a young attorney, my view was fairly myopic. I was tasked with “winning” for my client, advocating for the position they believed in so strongly. This is the training that law schools teach, often with no tether to the real world of either business or life as we know it. Students are not taught the gray, the middle ground that most of us live in, they are taught that there are black and white positions they must assume, with conviction. But, over the years, I have settled into my own belief that my daily work should consist of bridging the gap between different viewpoints, different positions. A true “Win” is when all parties leave the table feeling that they have been heard even if each person has stepped out of their comfort zone to reach a common understanding of the other’s position. This is true in the workplace and in our communities, not just on the playing field of law.
Women have been consensus building for years. As the matriarchs of the home, women have urged team play to their broods, many spending hours as coaches, chauffeurs and mediators to ensure that this next generation understands the value of working in tandem. They are tasked with teaching the important principles behind integrity such as honesty, accountability, fairness and responsibility. Just as they must manage the finances in a way that their family will be sustained, the future of their children is of paramount concern as is retirement with their spouse. Often, much to the dismay of the opposite gender, women want to talk about the issues at hand and work through them, intent on finding a solution that works for all parties. Women are communicators and the ultimate “multitaskers”, looking out for the welfare of their universal family - children, spouses, parents, friends and strangers in need.
It’s no secret that women who have been given the opportunity to lead in corporations shine and are generally well respected as leaders. They get the job done, their doors are open to all and they can be counted on to use the collective wisdom of their team to make decisions that take all the stakeholders into account. So, what’s the problem? Why does it take so long to turn the Titanic? Could it be that it needs a new captain of the ship and these new generations who are born to serve and understand reaching the masses through social media will be the impetus to a more inclusive way? How can we ensure that they will be different? By exposing our girls to the pressing issues of the world, not shielding them and then working with them hand in hand to find solutions, passing on the business skills and financial support while they forge ahead with enthusiasm and conviction.
IF, and sometimes it seems like a big IF, women are encouraged to use all the gifts and talents that they bring to the table without getting lost on legacy corporate battlefields, littered with old school ways and power plays and a singular focus on the bottom line, then business may finally fall into balance. Winning at all costs will be replaced with a demand for sustained leadership and a genuine desire to ensure the future of the next generation. But, here is the deal, it takes you, not just them, to make it happen. Will you commit to do something each day, just one thing to shift another’s point of view or support their efforts for positive change? Just one?
Copyright © 2017 Linda L. Lattimore
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