Gender Economics is an emerging field of study, with the 2012 international conference now under way in Spain. Gender Economics encourages organisations, and indeed countries to use all the resources available to them across both gender and diversity to improve economies, improve profitability and market share.
Many organisations in Australia recognise the positive and enriching qualities of ‘diversity’ and many of these organisations are also at the forefront of the gender equality issue. Westpac Bank has already done a lot of work around gender equality and diversity and continues to promote initiatives that increase leadership opportunities for women in senior management. However, there are other organisations that pay ‘lip service’ to diversity, flexibility and gender equality, yet these same organisations still qualify as a “Women’s Employer of Choice”.
True diversity and gender equality doesn’t just fit into the normalised view of a ‘gender stereotype’ for female friendly workplaces, like nursing stations and flexible working hours. Whilst these facilities are great regardless of gender, it is still in senior management that we see discrimination and “Boys Club” practices at work. If we changed the structure of our workplaces as well as the way that they run many would attract and keep more senior women. For example, developing alternative value measurements for success, true workplace audits that dig deep to name “Boys Club” practices and move away from what we are socially conditioned to believe women want in the workplace. In my experience the single most destructive element that prevents women remaining in and moving into leadership roles is the “Boys Club” element and the way both women and men support it. How can an organisation that purports to be a “Women’s Employer of Choice”, be serious when all its Board members are male? By which standard is the organisation developing its criteria to promote women? How can a patriarchal, primarily white male, Anglo-Saxon board structure really identify the needs and aspirations of the diverse groups of people in their organisation?
Gender Economics aims to develop these new metrics for success. Metrics that make sure that women and minorities have a direct impact on the economy and not an indirect impact on the economy via consumerism and social dependency. Not only would your organisation benefit by tapping into more resources, and advancing more women into leadership roles, I believe that Gender Economics will deliver greater access to a diverse customer base by understanding alternative measures of ‘value’ against revenue.