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Your [organizational] life has changed

Updated: May 12

When I became engaged (36 years ago), I called my college roommate to share the news. My roommate - by then a Presbyterian minister and married for several years - shared with me his considered advice having counseled many couples and his own marriage: "Your life will change".


A post from my alma mater, the Columbia Business School, shared a Financial Times article on how the presence of women in society and the workforce is forcing change on many levels (https://www.linkedin.com/posts/columbia-business-school_will-women-leaders-change-the-future-of-management-activity-6927661569543700480-J7Un?utm_source=linkedin_share&utm_medium=member_desktop_web)


The FT article link: https://on.ft.com/3vjT0nJ


I contend that the watershed moment for the presence of women in US society was 1970 with the Women's March for Equality. In the years that followed, I witnessed seemingly small but important steps. When I entered the MBA program at Columbia in 1978, we had the highest percentage of women in MBA programs - 35%! And the women's restrooms were all on the first floor...........


I was an EMT and member of my hometown's volunteer ambulance corps. We always scheduled a woman to be in the back with the patient (particularly women, of course). The men rotated among the 3 other positions (driver, radio "man", and crew chief). Well, along came a woman who wanted to be in the rotation to drive. In pretty short order, ALL women members were trained to drive the ambulances (in those days. everyone wasn't driving hulking SUVs - and handling a rig with a patient requires certain driving practices in braking, etc) and could opt to be in the rotation to drive as well -those who chose not to were still qualified to drive if needed. A seemingly small change.....what was interesting was that there was discussion, but no one was objecting - it was just a matter of figuring out scheduling and that happened.


So, this is related how? As this article...and so many others....have pointed out, women are half the population and roughly half the workforce and now half of managers. For a public corporation to appoint a woman as CEO is no longer a lead story. Yes, a ways to go......but moving along and likely to accelerate. The leaders of an organization have the responsibility to develop their people, to actively bring them into discussions, meetings, decision making, informal outside of work social time, and so on. I recently read an article - lost the article and link - that spoke about actively reaching out to people who were on the margins of a discussion and directly asking for their thoughts, and to ask and make sure that your people had also actively reached out.


Last point: this isn't about preferences, favoritism, affirmative action, reverse discrimination, or any other buzzword we want to throw out there. This is about the responsibility....and I'd argue fiduciary responsibility to the organization....to recruit, train, develop and retain (and promote) talented people.







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