Collaborative leadership: Time to move from measurement to action

13 de June 2019

Over many decades data prove that in order to have sustainable societies more women involved in the economies of their families, communities, and countries are needed, creating value through quality jobs or ventures.

Women account for 50% of the world population and separating them from economies is like flying a plane with a single engine: not only is it inefficient, but after some time it can lead to disaster.

Measuring gaps has added value because awareness has been raised about the seriousness of the issue and the impact of lack of equality on the population. As a result of gap measuring, action has been taken leading to progress in fields such as health or education.

However, measuring gaps has major restrictions as it focuses on symptoms and it does not result in complete solutions impacting the economies of families and countries. So much so, that the economic gap is now greater than ever: it will take 202 years for it to close completely.

In medicine, a drug that deals with symptoms can hide the real disease. If drugs are used just to mitigate the symptoms, the disease can progress silently and later on it may be too late to fight it.

Significant progress has also been made to raise awareness about the people’s unconscious bias, what Herminia Ibarra from INSEAD calls "second generation bias". Neuroscience, however, has proven that we all are biased and that these are part of our human nature: a mixture of genetics, education, and experience resulting in a particular way of thinking.

Changing people's beliefs is a hard, time-consuming task. It has even been proven recently that gender policies have a self-defeating impact on organizational cultures, leader to increased conflict, as rejection and strong reactions. Instead of cooperation, it has resulted in further confrontation.

What then is the path deep, lasting change, respect the essence of beings and beliefs?

The broken windows theory, applied successfully in the 80s in difficult environments, has shown that change the atmosphere leads to change in the behavior of the people.

By transferring this learning to our current setting, we believe that a change in family, workplace, or social context can help us naturally change the behavior of all human beings that living in it towards the natural inclusion of all its members.

To do so, instead of trying to change behavior through discussion sand policies aimed to impose equality, which can be unconsciously felt as threats, we propose to change the design of policies, practices, or organizational structures to create collaborative environments where men and women can exploit their potential and make their dreams come true.

A few weeks ago I was honored to have a very interesting conversation with Professor Iris Bohnet, who is the Dean of Harvard Kennedy School. In her book What Works, Professor Bohnet gives many examples of these type of inclusive models. Work teams design, recruitment processes, as well as payment, incentive, and development policies will bring about profound changes that decades of measurement and diagnosis have not being able to achieve.

In other words, it is time to move from measurement to action with a radical change of perspective.

Our Euro-American Collaborative Leadership Conference seeks precisely this: to share with you practices that have worked, success stories, and models that can bring the impact and social progress we need to have sustainable countries, organizations and families. This is the only way we can leave our children countries with better opportunities.