Are You a Man Trapped in a Woman’s Body?

PWN Global introduces the ‘Gender Balanced Leadership Awards’ this year.  Instead of rewarding only successful women, you will see various categories of awards to celebrate those companies and individuals demonstrating best practice in “gender balanced leadership”. Why?

Funda Sezgin, VP Engaging Men, PWN GlobalWomen’s empowerment, in a broader sense, “gender-balanced leadership” is not only women’s problem. It has a great social impact on how a society is shaped. For example, research shows that highly educated women tend to bring up highly educated children, hence a highly educated society. In shaping society, we need men’s involvement too.

Based on numerous data-driven studies, we know that companies with gender balanced teams perform better. It is widely researched that companies with women leaders on their executive and management boards also perform better. Let’s think about that for a moment – is it the women per se that bring this elevated performance of is it the balance between men and women that brings success? 

When we want women to thrive in business, we sometimes overstate the success of women and make sweeping statements that women are more competent than men. This can often alienate some of our male allies who strongly support gender-balanced leadership – which ends up being counter-productive and not enabling us to achieve our goal of creating more balanced boards. In fact, making categorical generic statements about any gender will only ever result in division. 

We need to be mindful of the language we use and the impact that this can have both consciously and unconsciously to the recipients of our messaging. 

When we share statistics, we generally see around 10 percent representation of women on boards. It means that for every 10 women there are 90 men in the most senior roles in business. The 10% of women who ‘make it’ get held up to be beacons of success and are often scrutinized very closely for both their successes and failures. Arguably, the 90% of men are not always held to the same exacting standards.

Our aim should be to find out ways to work together as women and men – and to be judged by the same criteria of success or failure. More importantly, we should work to create harmony at work rather than creating division. 

Representation of women on boards is not only a percentage issue. It is also qualitative issue. How many of women on boards are in these positions because of their female related attributes? In gender balance workshops, we hear top-level executive women’s confession that they hold these roles, as they were successfully able to imitate their male role models! How many of us worked for a women executive? How many of us really felt that this woman executive acts like a women, not like a man? How many of us witnessed that some of the women executives are as if they are men trapped in women bodies! 

Appointing women who act exactly like men does not mean that you have ‘women on boards’! If we are seeking real gender balanced boards, we need to capitalize on the positive aspects that gender diversity brings. We need to focus on the strengths of each gender and make space to invite diverse perspectives to business decision making.

To be able represent gender balance effectively in business world, we need to allow both genders to let their innate competences thrive, and we need to learn from one another’s strengths. We all need to accept and embrace gender differences rather creating hostile comparisons between women and men. 

This is why it is so important to reward “gender-balanced leadership”, rather than only rewarding “women leadership”. 

If you see the real value of gender balanced leadership, and want to join the debate, join us at the PWN Global Gender Balanced Leadership Awards on 10th October 2019 in Dublin, Ireland. 

About the Author:

Funda Sezgin is VP Engaging Men of PWN Global. 

Funda holds Executive MBA degree from Sabanci University in cooperation with MIT Sloan School of Management and Bachelor's degree from Bogazici University. She is a professional coach by Erickson Coaching International, an accredited school of ICF.

Funda has experience in Human Resources with specific focus on mergers & acquisitions, start-ups and reorganisations. 

Amongst the Regional HR roles, she worked for Diaverum Renal Services (Gambro) as Regional HR Director for Eastern Europe and the Middle East and for Trane Air-conditioning (Ingersoll Rand) as Regional HR Leader for East Mediterranean Region. Funda led Human Resources at healthcare, retail and technology companies, including Tesco, Baxter Gambro and Watsons.

Talent and performance management of diversified cultures, creating company culture programs, developing HR strategies for new markets and diversity at work place are her focus areas.


Date: July 2019
Edited by: Rebecca Fountain, Head of Marketing and Communications, PWN Global

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