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6th March 2015
Over 500 enthusiastic delegates attended the JUMP15 gender equality and diversity forum in Brussels. The overwhelming majority were women from Belgium, France and the Netherlands – many were entrepreneurs with others representing the corporate sector including banking, finance and pharmaceuticals. There were a handful of men in attendance too (Ed. including me!)
The theme of the forum as outlined in the JUMP brochure was the was “The Female Economy” and how women can benefit from the growing role they are playing in business and from their ever-increasing spending power. One of the main speakers, Prof. Marion Debruyne of the Vlerick Business School (who hosted the event) highlighted the female economy was worth 22 Trillion dollars and growing. Prof. Gloria Moss of Bucks New University pointed out the visionary differences between men and women. She went on to explain how brands “get it wrong” by ignoring the female demographic and using “male” marketing methods. She is the author of “Why Men Like Straight Lines And Women Polka Dots”. Other speakers included Her Royal Highness Princess Esmerelda of Belgium who spoke in the “Women Are Heroes” section along with Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues. Lynette Allen ran a thought-provoking workshop on “the great female corporate quit” – she outlined seven main topics including the origins of the male-centric corporation and the real reasons women leave the corporate world.
In the UK, diversity appears to be about the placement of different protected categories in an organization. Whereas true diversity would exist to change behaviours and management style within and between protected categories. ( age, gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation) Looking more deeply at this would mean moving beyond an approach just focused on demographics. For example, it would allow focus on management style and where gender is concerned a focus on what men and women can to leadership.
From some discussions yesterday with experts at JUMP15 in Brussels, there seems to be a high of awareness of the fact that women maybe more inclined to a transformational than transactional style and that their placement in leadership could bring about a change in organisational culture. As it stands, a failure to acknowledge these differences can lead to the appointment of women who’s style is transactional – command and control – and therefore no different from that (by and large) of the current male majority. In this way, a focus on demographics and getting more women into leadership positions, risks neglecting the vital issue of culture and ‘ type’ of leader appointed.
JUMP is the leading social enterprise working with organisations and individuals to close the gap between women and men at work, achieve sustainable corporate performance and create a more equal society.