We have come a long way from the suffragettes however, we still have a long way to go in the business world in terms of equality and inclusion. It probably seems obvious to most companies, that having an equal or good mix of both men and women can create a more open and inclusive culture that allows both innovation and a certain temperance.
Let’s face it, as people we all have our strengths and weakness’ the same goes for genders. Which is why inclusivity can be the key to a companies success. Having a diverse mix of people will only make your company more dynamic, whether they be men, women, trans people or any colour or creed. Your people offer insights and nuance for every market that you want to gain ground in and every forum in which you want to succeed. Being a white middle-class heterosexual man writing an article about gender inclusion and indeed inclusion, in general, is quite a challenge but I will endeavour to explain how to create a culture of acceptance within your company, that allows all your team to flourish
A Founders guide to Inclusion
Building your business around inclusion will only come with positives. The primary goal of hiring is to attain talented individuals who will help your business, so while inclusion is crucial, the distinction between the best and worst candidates is your primary goal. The main way to bring about an inclusive hiring policy in a start-up is just to avoid looking at someone’s CV from the perspective of the personal details they provide. These details shouldn’t factor into the equation at all! By that, I mean name, address, date of birth (if provided).
Hiring managers, generally make a judgement call straight away based on a CV. They can’t help it, it is human nature. The difference between Jack and Jill matters to a lot of people (God knows why) the same comes with creed and in certain companies, Simon might get hired over Sayed or vice a versa. This is why as a founder, the policy is pivotal with your hiring practices. My point is here that you need to have a hiring process that discounts the personal and is focused on experience as you could lose some of your best hires at the CV shortlisting phase. So policy is prudent and practical.
He is for she
Yes, that is me on the left, my cousin Sophie in the middle and Sayed on the right. Apologies, I was having an unfortunate hair day.
Inclusion shouldn’t have to be about advocacy. In an ideal world, people should be able to speak for themselves regardless of gender and be respected in an equitable way but as I am sure you’re aware this world is less than ideal. Par Example, Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un and BoJo. With that in mind, I think advocacy by men for women should be encouraged, not because they need us but because we need them!
Ultimately to be a successful founder you need to have the right team. While there are a lot of cis-hetero-normative male traits that help a business, there is also a great deal of things that men fall short on, equally the same goes for women, non-binary individuals and people who suffer from mental health issues in different degrees. They all have there strengths and short-comings, we need to appreciate that a diverse team will compensate for each individual’s weakness’
As a founder, in principle, you should focus on creating a culture of inclusion. Where people are unashamed of presenting themselves and the people you need because preceptions can be deceiving and you will miss out on sterling chaps & chapettes if you don’t keep an open mind.
As a leader and manager, your responsibility doesn’t stop at making the right hires. You need to give them an environment where they can thrive. Which can be a more difficult task than it may first appear, as intrinsically women are judged more upon their appearance than their abilities in almost every sphere of life, it’s a hegemonic cultural thing.
So realistically, in order to get the most from your team, you are going to need to de-programme them to a certain extent. So where to begin? Well, you need to address, first of all, gender stereotypes, for example, most males aren’t hyper-competitive go getter’s neither are women.
My brother is a nurse and is a stellar carer with a limitless capacity for compassion. To suggest that he can’t be a nurse because he is male would generally be frowned upon, so the same should apply to women. There are determined saleswomen who can sell not just from a flutter of long eyelashes, there are female doctors who are decisive in our hour of need and there are a hell of a lot of women who could have written this article better. To end, as a founder nurture peoples talents regardless of whether they conform to your world view, watch, wait and see where they excel. Humanise them and they will perform for you.