Mixed Leadership as a Business Need: Why Diversity Management?


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Actually, according to the Federal Government, the 2016% women quota has been successively introduced in large German companies, supervisory boards and the public sector since 30. But why does not it work out with women in management positions?

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Britta Posner britta_posnerBritta Posner is an Integral Business Coach and leads the company consulting The Collaboration Practice.

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As of 2018, the quota of women on supervisory boards should even rise to 50%. If the companies now fulfill their duty, then everything is settled.

Actually ... On the basis of the fact that women today represent 5.7% of the German board members and 18.9% of the German supervisory boards, this goal seems very ambitious. But how can these targets be implemented in a realistic and meaningful manner? For it seems as if the ratio does not move so right from the spot.

View to Europe

After all, according to a long-term study by Ernst and Young from the year 2012 the proportion of female board members has increased between 2005 and 2010 from 5% to 8%. That's still just a drop in the bucket.

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With regard to our European neighbors, we also have to realize soberly that a quota system is not a panacea. Norway, the country with the highest percentage of women in board members (2011%) in 34, has a quotas since 2008. Sweden, the country with the second largest share (27%), has no quotas.

Diversity pays

So if a quota doesn't automatically “regulate everything”, how do we get there? But before we think about the “how”, we should ask ourselves “why” such a development makes sense at all.

It has so far also everything worked. The answer is clear and sufficiently documented by studies: Diversity pays. Companies with at least a quarter of women in their management boards achieve significantly better results than companies without women.

Women matter

According to McKinsey, who published the “Women Matter” study in 2013, these companies achieve an average return of 47% and a 55% win rate. The long-term study by Ernst and Young from 2012 confirms these observations: companies with female board members achieve an average sales growth of 20% and an average profit increase of 22%.

But also “soft” Success Factors improve significantly through an entrepreneurial mixed leadership approach. Reduced employee turnover, reduced absenteeism and an almost 100% on-time / on-budget project completion are just some of the examples.

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Society is also to blame

If the mixed leadership advantages are so clear, why do not we see any faster change?

Responsibility for the status quo is not the responsibility of the company alone. On the contrary. Country-specific, cultural and socioeconomic factors have a strong influence on the role of women in enterprises. The same applies to women's own understanding of roles and their behavior based on them.

If one loses, both lose

One of the biggest hurdles in this context is the awareness among women as well as men that we are not living in a black and white world. If one wins, does not necessarily lose the other. But if one loses, both lose.

Boys are still socialized as girls in the traditional Germany. Men measure themselves at other men. Never to women. And so their focus is primarily on their competitors.

Diversity measures are considered unfair

How can we expect leaders who have grown up in such a conservative society model to recognize that women are more difficult than themselves to climb the career ladder?

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Indeed, according to a McKinsey study, men tend to view “diversity measures” in their companies as unfair to them. In addition, many managers are convinced that their management does not support the relevant “diversity measures”. So why bother? Because it's worth it, as I'll show in the second part of the article.


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