Let me do something I don’t often do and dip into the headlines a bit for this Leading Thoughts.
We all know that we are living through what has been called the #MeToo Moment. Because some prominent women have been courageous to speak out and because some prominent men have had to admit wrongdoing, we are living through a time when sexual abuse of women is getting some of the attention it needs.
I’m sure I believe what you do about this. Women should not be abused. Men should not speak in nasty terms to women, touch them in unwanted ways, or generally dominate them with sex or physical control as a constant threatening undercurrent. I also, believe, of course, that no woman should make a false accusation about abuse or pursue sex with a man and then blame him for wrongdoing when she regrets it later.
All of this is part of our global debate and will continue to be. May it make us better.
What I want to address here is a decision I see a great many firms making to back off on their hiring of women. They aren’t saying this publicly, of course, but they have come to believe that a culture of men is simpler and less risky than a mixed gender culture and so they are leaning exclusively toward men in their hiring.
This would be a mistake.
The first reason is that we need what women bring to leadership. Obviously! Aptitude tests repeatedly reveal that women are superior to men in all areas of aptitude except abstract thought and aggression. This means that while men are better—on average—at envisioning the future and pursuing it fiercely, women are superior in all other aptitudes. This also means that to build a company of men only is to lose the astonishing gifts women have that most men—and we are talking about surveys and averages here, not every single male—do not have.
The second reason is that women are the statistical majority of the world population. To build a company only of men is to assure that your firm is not in its best harmony with more than half the world. This is fine if you are laying brick, but not if you are marketing brick laying to homeowners, many of whom are women. It is also not fine if you are running a grocery store, a law firm, a political organization, a medical service or, frankly, any firm that deals with the real world. Not hiring women is, in short, just bad business.
A third consideration is that when men and women share leadership, or most any task for that matter, they are both made better. Men will tend to think more deeply, temper their drives, consider a wider range of perspectives, and, frankly, perform better overall. Women will tend to get more linear in their thinking, become more results oriented, and be more positively assertive. In other words, both achieve more.
By the way, an almost humorous result is that when men and women work together, they tend to be trimmer, dress better, and have better manners. This is what surveys show. Makes sense to me!
So the answer is not to refuse to hire women. The answer is to build an honorable, moral, elevating culture in which men and women thrive together. This can be, I truly believe, the meaning of our #MeToo Moment for many a willing organization.