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Men vs Women and Why We Need Both at Work

The representation of men and women in the workforce is so badly explained (or not at all) that I am not surprised that nobody cares about this topic. We are not having men and women because it's 2024 (as stupid Justin Trudeau said), we are having them because they bring very different qualities that must exist together for balance. 

Sex differences in personality traits is a massive field of study that organisations have zero grasp on hence we have silly people coming out with the "We need to increase female representation at executive levels". These studies along with social studies can take this wish apart in like 5 seconds but I am not going to go there now. Instead, let's look at the differences between men and women and why we need both but maybe not everywhere. I would never support that for a simple reason: 

Men are interested in things and women are interested in people. In addition, men are less agreeable and women are more sensitive to negative emotions. 

This is the fundamental principle that societies and sex distribution in the workforce are built on. Upset this with your stupid quotas and see what happens. In fact, studies in equalitarian countries showed that if you leave men and women alone the gap in distribution (men vs women ratio in certain roles) significantly widens. The majority of women will do jobs related to people and the majority of men will do jobs related to things. You will always have the outliers and we love them!!! 

Let's look at corporate roles as this is where we tend to get confused with the narrative and not in the field of bricklaying. 

Men are interested in things hence you see manual labour jobs being dominated by them even those that are physically not so demanding like watch or shoe making or tailoring. But what does it mean in the work of corporations? 

Men are going to be concerned about, achieving financial targets, getting that piece of business, destroying the competition, competing with others, and keeping the business going at all costs. Yes, at all costs. They don't pay much attention to people's needs but are more concerned about the business needs. Who do you think coined this phrase in our job descriptions and contracts "You may be asked to work irregular hours or complete other tasks based on the needs of the business." Must have been a man. They will make sure that the business survives without getting caught up in the emotional aspects of the business, the people. Men will spend money related to improving the business and not necessarily on improving the welfare of the people. This is why I don't like men being in HR roles. They are all about money, ROI, and the bottom line. Imagine this, I reached out to many heads of HR in the hotel industry asking if they would be interested in looking at their employees' experiences and redesigning them. One said a short "No" and the other said, "We have different priorities." As an HR, what other priorities do you have if not your people? They were both man. Their priorities are transactional like; opening the next hotel (pipeline growth), saving money on "unnecessary" investments to meet profit KPIs etc. Hence you see, employees' needs are being overlooked and addressed with the cheapest possible options like pizza parties and recognition certificates. 

Men are also better at business deals because they are lower on negative emotions hence they are better at risk-taking. Their brain is not as attuned to risk as women's brains (we need that risk alert to be high to anticipate danger and keep our infants alive). This is when you see men being engaged in high-risk business dealings (including unethical actions) while women are rather conservative in comparison. It is not that women are more ethical but more like more risk-averse. 

But balance is needed like with everything in life and this is where women come into the picture. 

Women are interested in people therefore, you see people-related jobs are dominated by them even when they are physically very demanding like nursing. But what does it mean in the work of corporations? 

Whilst women can be just as focused on achieving business targets they tend to do that with the people in mind. They will approach issues through the development (fixing) of people while men would approach them through fixing numbers and processes. Women are not necessarily the ones who will achieve business results at all costs, and when they are forced to do so, they feel it in their souls. They will be kept up at night because of the impact they have on people while men will be kept up at night for not achieving the bottom line or being able to save the business. Women are more likely to spend money on people-related matters like staff accommodation, employee welfare, food, and other areas. They pay a lot of attention to the needs of the people and try to balance them out with the needs of the business. You can see how employee welfare has constantly been shaped and has been on the agenda since women entered the workforce in large numbers. Women bring people focus to organisations. 

Here is the good news, none is better than the other and we need both as long as organisations are made up of people. Men will make sure that we are profitable and bringing in the money and women will make sure that we do that with the people in mind. This is the balance leaders and organisations must understand because if you bring one poor woman into that executive boardroom where men aren't aware of what she is bringing to the table she will be labelled as "softy" the moment she mentions "but what about the people?" No, she is not! She sees something that men don't and the appropriate approach is; "Hey girl, this is our plan what is your perspective from the people's point of view? How can we make this work in a way that benefits both the business and our people?" And vice-versa! Women should do the same with their people-related initiatives and involve men in how that impacts the business simply because they see that better, their focus is on that. 

And this is where we need to consider men being less agreeable than women. This is big because women's role is to keep the peace and we do that very well even in the boardroom. We might not push back which means men get their way simply because women are more agreeable and not because of the patriarchy. Ladies take responsibility for being shoved aside. It is innate and is needed but should not be to the detriment of you or the organisation. 

Men & women must understand their approach and not change it but use it to complement each other so organisations are not one-sided. We don't want companies to be dominated by men or women. I have seen "all-female" or "women-led" organisations and departments and I didn't like what I saw. Bloody emotional chaos where everyone needed a support group and a lot of money was being wasted on nonsense. We all have seen "all-male" or "men-led" organisations too where extended working hours are the norm, terrible working conditions, expenses are tightly controlled, and risky transactions are morally acceptable. I don't like either of them. I like balance. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, this is why we need both men and women in organisations and not because it is a KPI driven by social agendas. We need it to create healthy well-balanced environments, but for that, we must understand what we bring to the table. BUT, it doesn't mean we need 50-50% representation of men and women. You can have one woman in an all-male company if that woman's perspective, point of view, advice, and recommendations are taken on board and her strengths as a woman are utilised. When that happens, the numbers become irrelevant and you can also start talking about REAL inclusivity and diversity WINK WINK. 

And that's the reason you study psychology before you even think about going near HR or leadership roles:-)))

PS: I prefer working with men because my personality traits are more masculine than feminine yet, I bring a lot of people focus to the table. Sometimes it is not heard by them (which is normal) and this is when my masculine side comes out (low on agreeableness) and I make sure that I am heard one way or another. 

PPS: I also know a company where men are losing money and women are the ones pushing towards profitability. You find everything when you look but pay attention to the majority. 

Exciting news! My second book, "Blind Leading the Disengaged - From Kindergarten to Employee Experience," is dropping in April! It's a treasure trove of solutions and cool ideas to shake up your people management game. But before we get there, let's chat about where we're at now—The Corporate Kindergarten, as I spilt the beans in my first book. Check it out, and let's transform your workplace from a daycare to an awesome employee experience hub!:

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