There is a strong business case for diversity, inclusion and equality. Organisations with inclusion, diversity and equality central to their business strategy have a competitive advantage. According to McKinsey's Diversity Report in 2020, companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25 per cent more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies in the fourth quartile. This figure was up from 21 per cent in 2017 and 15 per cent in 2014.
However, just emphasising representation is not enough. As McKinsey highlights, ' employees need to feel and perceive equality and fairness of opportunity in the workplace.'. Organisations need to live and breathe, making it part of their organisational DNA
As we come out of the pandemic and into a post-COVID-19, endemic world, embracing diversity, inclusion and equality could be a critical enabler of recovery, resilience and growth for organisations. However, although the pandemic increased the adoption of flexible working for many organisations, conversely it has negatively impacted female representation in the workplace, accelerating existing trends and attitudes about gender roles. The Pew Research Center (June 2020) reported that 11.5 million women, compared to 9 million men, lost their jobs due to COVID-19. (Source: Gallup) Seemingly COVID-19 forced many women to return to part-time or hybrid work, potentially resulting in a loss of current and potential female leaders across organisations.
Diversity, particularly female representation in our leadership teams, is demonstrably essential and good for business. But what is it is about gender diversity in leadership roles that makes it so important? Let us consider typically feminine, right brain traits and how these might show up in leadership styles that benefit business and leadership.
The Leadership Circle is a method of assessment based on 360 feedback and the principles of the Universal Model of Leadership. The profile generated by the Leadership Circle measures 18 leadership competencies. Research has demonstrated that these competencies are leaders' most critical behaviours and skillsets. The circle divides behaviours between reactive and creative competencies. The creative leadership competencies measure key behaviours and internal assumptions that lead to high fulfilment, high achievement leadership. The reactive competencies reflect inner beliefs that limit effectiveness, authentic expression and empowering leadership.
Leadership effectiveness scores highly correlate to the exhibition of creative behaviours. The higher the creative leadership score, the higher the overall leadership effectiveness score. Business outcomes such as Return on Investment (ROI), employee job satisfaction, employee engagement and turnover significantly correlate to leadership effectiveness. The top 10% of the highest performing businesses score 80% for leadership effectiveness, calculated on the extent of creative behaviours exhibited.
Working through the dimensions behind creative leadership behaviours: relating, self-awareness, authenticity, systems awareness and achieving it is possible to draw parallels between them and more typically feminine traits or perhaps those associated with the right side of the brain.
Why is right brain leadership so important? The right side of the brain is the primary source of emotional intelligence. It is where our emotion, intuition and creativity lie. People who use their right brain more in leadership understand the value of emotions, are relational, collaborative, more personal and creative. In a Harvard study by Jagdish Parikh, 13,000 executives credited both left and right-brained skills in their leadership styles. However, they credited 80% of their success to right-brained intuition.