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Few women in the boardroom – a failure in process


 It remains evident there are fewer women at senior levels in our organisations.  It has also been proven time and again that selection decision making is far from the robust, fair meritocracy that is supposed.  A major factor here it seems includes, in addition to political considerations, our highly variable and unpredicatable sub concious.  Neuro-science and experimental psychology demonstrate humans never make logical decisions.  How else would you explain that the avergae CEO is around 2.5 inches taller than the average male?  It also shows us that we posess different ways of thinking, decision-making and expressing ourselves and this becomes especially noticable when handling complex situations.

It may also be that the processes by which boardrooms and other executive meetings take place have been developed over time to suit a particular thinkgin style - that of the currently dominant mindset.  It may be the case that this suits the female archetype of thinking than those of her male counterparts.  One only need imagine the boardroom table, those who hold court there, the power structures and the way debates are handled and closed down to see that it suits a particular type of thinking, problem-solving and expression.  Those who do not thrive in this type of situation are less likely to be seen as contributing or as equals.

The arguement is cast around females but may equally be applied to anyone who possess a thinking and expression style this type of environment does not suit.

The failure must therefore be in part a failure of good design of the dialouge process. Effective design of these processes harnesses differences rather than neutralising them.  Good dialouge process uses a wisdom that recognises that when it comes to complex problems the real value is actually in the differences of different style not in reducing them.  New insights are gained that way and its much more then just lietening or effective communciatoin skills.  The way we structure our conversations is not often thought of but it is an essential skill for those chairing meetings of any type.  Otherwise all the communication and leadership skills are missing a vital part.  And we have the evidence of the results of that all aorund.

Its not the whole answer but maybe if we paid more attention to effective design of our problem solving dialouge, especially at senior levels and to understanding how to harness the value of our differences we would see boardrooms that are more equitable.  And without quotas or other artificial interventions.  We may also make better decisions, learn to innovate and intelligently identify and handle risks.   

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