“Boys focus on the ball, girls on the game.” This remark by my sorority mate, who also manages a girls’ soccer team, vividly describes how men and women approach life and therefore end up making different choices.
According to data on the best-performing companies, business success is a balancing act. Mixed teams and mixed boards make the best decisions. What fascinates me is that we have known this fact for years but we don’t seem to apply this knowledge. In the Netherlands, 9 out of the 10 executive board members to date are men!
Why on earth, I wonder.
The unwritten rules of the workplace have been formed by men over the years. My viewpoint is that women do not recognize themselves in these rules and consciously or unconsciously choose not to conform and sometimes end up not wanting to play at all. It is high time to rewrite the rules of the game called work, in a way that both men and women can continue to play and to thrive. We need to find a way that men and women can equally play their own role in boardrooms, that they can create startups and manage their lives in other meaningful ways.
To better understand how, we should perhaps ask ourselves a few questions: who are the women that are thriving in today’s game? Who are the women that gain positions of power and influence? Who are the women that bring something different into the game and are not marginalized doing so? What choices have they made? What has been their path? And what can they teach other women?
Role models, inspirational female role models, are the key to answering these questions. Stories of their successes and failures, of their vision and of that special resilience that makes them persevere will help us understand how they are busy rewriting the unwritten rules.
I am a corporate anthropologist. I have never identified myself as such, but now I know that I am just that. I naturally take the role of the observer while I participate. And I always question the status quo. I never take culture for granted. I am a fundamentally curious person.
In a series of documentary films and articles that will shortly be launched, I delve into these questions, and try to understand what makes these aspirational women tick. My source of inspiration are FMO’s clients. Look out for the FMO role model series that will soon be launched.