Creating a better gender balance in a company is often impossible without putting gender in the wider context of diversity. This means that gender is still on the table, but as one of the elements within an overall diversity policy, including culture, age, language, physical ability, sexual orientation etc etc.
In other words, women are considered as one of the minorities companies need to get on board in order to become more diverse and to create a better reflection in house of the society outdoors.
Of course, gender balance has something to do with diversity at large. However, I do not agree gender sits well in the list of minorities so often used to describe the diversity approach.
The link between gender balance and diversity is that you need to have both men and women on board, in order to develop a balanced culture and balanced leaders. Balanced leaders value and use both their inner masculine and feminine side. By doing this, they establish an inclusive culture. And building an inclusive culture is the only road to capturing the added value from the diversity you create within your company.
In other words, creating gender balance should come first. Not because women are more important than people with a disability for instance. But simply because creating a masculine/feminine balanced culture is necessary to break the “mold” or the template and start including different views and angles.
Bringing more colour, culture, languages, etc into a team with a predominantly masculine corporate culture will not automatically result in more diversity in viewpoints, more creativity and innovative power.
If you do not challenge the culture, you will not change the outcome.
Michele Mees is the author of The Balanced Leader: Dynamics to improve the Masculine/Feminine Balance in Business