It's not happening! Despite the wide availability of statistics on how badly women are doing at the top, the dedicated initiatives and announcements of individual companies, the aim of getting more women on boards is moving forward at a glacial pace. Something is wrong about the way we are approaching this critically important issue.
How it is for men
On the other side of the argument I am aware of many discomforted men who also recognise there is an issue, they may even be the one tasked with solving it. The men I have talked to are at a loss, they don't know how to go about getting more women into leadership roles so they are inclined to fiddle around the edges. The reality is that they feel they are on the back foot. It reminds me of the fairytale in Men are from Mars, telling how when the prince comes to rescue her and is about to slay the dragon with his sword, the princess holds out a bottle and shouts down from the castle tower. 'No, use the poison!'
Part of the problem
For us to make progress the men will have to come to understand that they are part of the problem and therefore part of the solution and get interested in that. There have been some intriguing initiatives recently at Pay Pal and Male Champions of Change in Australia.
We all grew up with these powerful fairy tales and men and women and we often feel we are constrained to operate within their narrow boundaries. But we are all starting somewhere and wherever that is that has to be OK. To solve problems we all need to do it in the way that works best for us, starting from where we are.
One conversation at a time
Changing perceptions and outlook isn't easy, culture changes one conversation at a time with individuals questioning how it has always been done and being open to finding a different way. We need to support these brave reaching out conversations. What is needed is a safe place to honestly share concerns and understand the different pathways the other sex sees to successfully work together to create gender equality.
What we are trying to achieve is men and women collaborating to use their different approaches to achieve the joint mission of running a profitable enterprise. That is delicate and painstaking work but I think the time has come to grasp the nettle.