A great article in this week’s Economist regarding an historic milestone: in a few months women will make up more than half of the American workforce. Certainly a “mixed” achievement considering that women still often make less than men (substanitially less for Hispanic and other minority women). When you review leadership at the C-Level of Fortune 500 organizations, women still make up less than 10% of CEO’s. While women are graduating from colleges and universities at higher rate than men, there is still a discrepancy when it comes to gender equality in U.S. organizations in terms of earnings and experience.
Women and Hispanics share many of the same challenges – many I’ve written about over these last few months. When one sees disappointing statistics such as these, it’s not difficult to become impassioned about making a difference to change it. Whether it’s women, Hispanics, African-Americans, the physically challenged, or people of differing sexual orientation, inclusion is not just about recognizing our differences, but about whether individuals in organizations feel respected and valued. Individuals want to know that they make a difference.
As more women and people of color enter the workforce, we should aspire to create organizational cultures that also change to meet their needs. This type of change does not imply a decrease in performance, but it does include a different way of conducting business so that everyone is valued for their equal contribution.