Gender Equality

I was reading this report from IBM Institute for Business value titled ‘Women, Leadership and the Priority Paradox‘ and it just came to my mind : how obvious and commonsensical this actually is.

Everybody should agree that intelligence is equally distributed among two genders. At least all of us could see that in the primary and secondary schools, where boys and girls are both able to understand math, learn languages, science and arts. Still, later in life, in the western and most of modern societies, men have more power and money and women less of it. Maybe you would say : “Men earn money to bring home and women decide how to spend it”. But who decides within these companies and governments how to spend money ? Following the same logic, then shouldn’t it be the women ?

I think not. I think that the power of decision needs to be balanced. And here I would come back to my argument that the intelligences are equally distributed among two genders. If this is so, we need to find a way how to use these intelligences in a balanced manner on the smaller, household level and the broader – corporate and national levels. In other words, the current situation where we have mostly men deciding on corporate and national strategies, and implementing these strategies is wrong and unsustainable.

In old times of early human history when humans lived as hunters and gatherers, genders were equal. This has been proven by the way how men and women were burried – no difference in the positions, sizes or the decorative objects that were found with their bodies. In the agricultural societies, at least in the early stage, women seem to be privileged. The evidence is female figurines of goddesses. Look at the art objects of ancient Vinca.

But later, all this changed. Gods became male, and with that, man became a kind of god. In the later history and through middle ages, kings and rulers were men, solders were men, priests were men, scholars were men, artists were men. What did they achieve? Definitely a lot. But also single-mindedness, which leads to conflicts and lack of tolerance and understanding. Conflicts that plague even the modern society. Shortsightedness and lack of broader perspective. It is like using only one eye. Even though you have two.

Many things changed in the meanwhile, but there is still a problem. Go now to any corporate or government office, and you will see that majority of managers are men. Think a moment about that.

Sustainability means long-term survival of the humans. If we want to achieve it, we need to change and broaden the current perspective. We need to open both eyes. We no longer live in the world where physical strength is so necessary to produce value. Machines and technology do all the heavy lifting. We control and manage them. There is no reason why most of the professional roles can’t be performed by women. And managerial too.

The benefit is very obvious when you look at Scandinavian countries, which managed to develop this balance. They are the cleanest, most modern, and most innovative countries with highest quality of life. Why ? Because they deploy the human intelligence where it fits the best. And both parents take responsibility of the childcare.

How to change the current  situation in most of other countries ?

I’m thinking here of few practical steps.

First, governments should adopt legislation so that publicly listed companies must have gender balanced senior leadership and middle-level management. Private companies especially the smaller ones are simply private. But public companies have responsibility not only to the shareholders, but also to the society. So, they need to behave in a more responsible way.

Next, within companies, women need to get the chance to gain experience. They need exposure and this has to be formalized in the corporate policies. Similar like we all have to give up our combustion cars and either ride bicycles or get electric ones, we all have to accept that women should go higher in the corporate hierarchies. Even if the electric cars don’t have such a radius like the combustion ones, we have to do it, for the sake of our kids and our future. And even if these women are not as skilled as some senior male executives, they need to get this opportunity. If they don’t learn quickly enough to produce results, find other candidates. Collectively and in not so long-term , this will pay off.

On a personal and family level, I don’t have any particular advice as I’m confident that people who live together will help each other. It is beautiful to take care about children for both men and women. And it is also equally boring to clean the house to any of us.

I think it is the time for the situation to change. To get to the next level of our human development. To be more sustainable, and get in balance. To get in balance with the nature and among ourselves.

Disclosure: I have two daughters. And I want to see this world become a better place for them so they can be happy and successful in life. I can see in them so much strength, creativity and intelligence, and I’m teaching them that the sky is the limit, and not some glass ceilings on the way to it.

Sasha Lazarevic

May 30, 2019

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