When Does Equality Become Inequity?

With such great movements towards equality in workplaces; I’ve always been curious about the hidden dynamics.  By this I mean – what do companies really do (under the surface) to achieve equality and this authentic?

Larger organisations now have set targets to meet on diversity and most of it sits around gender.  This is only one small part of diversity.  Only the statistics and results are seen in the public eye.  These are often seen in reporting or through and Talent Attraction Campaigns.

Little is known about how organisations achieve this.  Behind the scenes are people in recruitment, talent management, leadership and HR who work tirelessly to ensure the organisation complies.  How do they achieve this difficult task?


I’ve asked a number of colleagues who work in recruitment (particularly in the banking sector) and was horrified.  One colleague said that for every three resume’s they presented to stakeholders, there must be at least one female represented (this is not what horrified me!).  This horrified me!  The focus was not on whether the female had the experience and qualifications for the role but was simply a ‘token’ candidate.  This meant that the recruitment team could report accurately that they had put forward a female candidate to the role.

This has many levels of ‘wrongness’ .  The poor female candidate goes for a job interview and is clearly not right for the role.  How does this leave her feeling?  What about the time she wasted, the time the recruitment team wasted and the interviewer!  Simply so the organisation can report they have interviewed so many females for the role.

I too have been asked to apply for a senior role as the company only wanted a female.  Not only was I under qualified but I didn’t want to take a role where an organisation thought that male and female ratios meant diversity.

Internal Promotions

I’ve also seen males less qualified and experienced get internal promotions over other more qualified females to meet the targets of a female dominated industry.  I’ve also witnessed a female who was extremely under qualified get promoted into a senior role over a male (who was doing the role and very successfully).

Diversity is so much more than gender.  If we are going to focus on gender as a way to quantify that we are ‘good’ organisations – this is alarming.  Male or Female – we should not be put up as a statistic to prove we are equal.  In fact I think looking simply at gender is inequality.

Some organisations do diversity really well and I know why.  They don’t have to report on male/female ratios or prove anything.  The simple mantra is ‘the right person for the job’.  One such organisation a great mix of male/female/transgender/gay/bisexual/people with disabilities/marginalised people and much more.

Diversity of thought is the key and the ‘best person for the job’ regardless is real diversity.

Hiring Sales Managers In Retail

Any multi-store retailer would agree that having a competent district manager is critical to success. Tasked with overseeing the operations of all stores within a given district or area, a district manager needs to juggle several retail components, including staff development, compliance, sales, customer satisfaction, and more. Needless to say, the individual that you hire […]

via 6 Tips for Hiring a Retail District Manager — Retail Audit and Store Execution Blog

Leadership-Is It Interchangeable?


Leadership can be defined in many ways and there is plenty of literature that tell you how to be a ‘good leader’.   Quite frankly I’m a little sick of hearing about the new trends in leadership but that’s not because I’m a bad leader.   My view is that leadership has very different meanings.  Leadership is diverse and so are the qualities that make up a ‘good leader’.  For example, a ‘good leader’ in the manufacturing industry would look vastly different to a ‘good leader’ in the HR industry– why?  Because the skills required (soft and hard skills) would be linked to the outcomes of the business or division they lead.  A ‘good leader’ in manufacturing may need to be good at directing others – this is necessary to keep process optimized and keep everyone safe.  Ford is a great example of this, however this type of leadership may not fit well say in the HR industry where directing others might leave you with high turnover and a disengaged team.!
Now, I’m not saying they aren’t interchangeable but I would question that ‘good’ might mean different things to different organisations.   You could be in the same industry but change companies to find out that your ‘good leadership’ style is not so good at all!  Ask any CEO of an organization “What does good leadership look like”?  and I bet you’ll get a very different answer from each one.
There are also different leadership styles amongst CEO’s (which I guess means you can have different styles in the one job).  But do they get the same result? – well actually, sometimes – YES.  For example, look at Steve Jobs and Bill Gates – both had/have very different styles of leadership but took one of the worlds most recognised brands to new heights.  Were they considered ‘good leaders’ – to the shareholders probably yes.  See below for further insight.
So I’ve put together some key fundamentals that make a good leader – one that can transfer their leadership to different industries and organisations.
  1. Adaptability – The ability to adapt to different circumstances quickly and effectively is critical. You may have to adapt your style in a second depending on your audience.  Mastering this skill will make you a superhero of an organization.  Failing to do this will most certainly see you struggle.  But all of us have it in us – it is tapping into it that will be the tipping point but you do it socially.  Think about how you change your style amongst your friends/social groups etc.  Be aware of this and you will start to shift your thinking
  2. Listening – a ‘no brainer’ but listening is not just auditory. Observe your team – How do they interact with you and visa versa.  How do they interact as a team – do they collaborate well or are they working individually – coming to know your team is the first step in good leadership
  3. Boundary management – This is an interesting one. Being able to manage your personal boundaries/professional boundaries is just one part of boundary management.  Managing your team’s boundaries is also critical – are they getting stomped on by other divisions?  A good leader is able to build an invisible boundary around their team and you (as the leader) stand at the boundary.
  4. Performance Management – This is difficult for most people but having tough conversations with your team when they are not performing is key. If you see a member of your team acting badly – hit it on the head straight away – don’t let it fester.
  5. Story Telling – now hear me out! – A good leader is someone who can use their mistakes, turn them into stories and teach others how to avoid them. They are also good at painting a full picture of situations that are occurring in the organization that effect their team.
Now I’m aware that I have given you more to think about than answers so I’d be keen to hear your own thoughts.  What leadership qualities are critical to success in your organization?

Is Organisational Culture Primitive?

The study of Organisation Dynamics refers to the behaviour and culture of organisations as a ‘whole’ rather than that of the individual.  The focus of the ‘group’ or ‘system’ dynamic is commonly referred to as the ‘culture’. When asked to describe the culture – it is often hard to do so.  How do you describe the social fibre of an organisation when most of it is actually hidden under the surface.  Culture is best described as the things each of us do unconsciously.  For example – when a new person joins your organisation they are mostly in a state of confusion – why? – because they are trying to understand the ‘under the surface’ dynamics of the organisation.  They must learn this before they can perform their job in the most socially appropriate way.  What is acceptable behaviour in one organisation is totally unacceptable in another – I have seen this in many organisations.
The study of Organisation Dynamics seeks to understand some of the unconscious drivers and socially constructed systems that make up the system and subsequent sub systems of an organisation.
Bion (1967) laid a foundation to better understand organisations as social systems when he analysed and documented group behaviour.  Bion was clear in his description of a group in that it must be formed to serve a purpose.  Organisations too have a purpose and each division within an organisation has its own purpose or set of tasks that are linked to the overall purpose of the organisation (sometimes!).
I don’t want to get academic on you (because I’m definitely not!) , however anyone who has studied organisations might be familiar with Bion’s theory.  This underpins the framework for organisational observation today.  Bion’s central theory was that there are two parts to every group.  These two parts formed the ‘work group’ and the ‘basic assumption group’.  The ‘work group’ serves the purpose or task of the group and the ‘basic assumption group’ holds the unconscious fantasies or ‘assumptions’ of the group.  Bion describes this group as the ‘invisible people sitting in two separate circles and talking’ .Margaret J Rioch  1970 p. 20).  Inherently as individuals we hold both the ‘task’ and the ‘invisible’.  Think about who you gravitate to or gossip with (yes you do).  Sometimes the invisible side of us can be used in awful ways towards others – like colluding, alienating others and more.   I’ve certainly seen this happen but people aren’t aware that they are doing it – it is unconscious (or sometimes unfortunately conscious).
There are three main groups that Bion (1961) uses to analyse the ‘Basic Assumption Group’ and these are Basic Assumption Dependency (Bad), Basic Assumption Fight/Flight (Baf) and Basic Assumption Pairing (Bap).  The fundamental idea regarding ‘basic assumption groups’ is that they operate (unconsciously) ‘as if’ or assuming that something was true.  For example, the Bad group operates as if they were a depending on another (in most cases the omnipotent leader) as their saviour – again, this is not a conscious choice.
All Basic Assumption groups operate at the most primitive level of humanity and it is this that is culture.  So describe the culture of your organisation now?  What is the real culture?

Why Aren’t We Starting With Our Grads to Tackle Diversity?

I’ve been involved in a number of graduate recruitment campaigns and have put hundred’s of graduates through assessment centres, psychological testing, video screening and aptitude tests.  I really feel for those graduates!   I often wonder if we over assess our graduates – we certainly put them though more testing than our experienced hires!  I also wonder why we put them through so many tests but look for the same results in the testing criteria ie academic scores, aptitude test, how they perform in assessment etc.  I think many organisations (not all) have graduates with very similar profiles.  Have a look at your own organisation – do your grads have the same profile?
Graduates are our future leaders and a great talent pipeline – if we are really trying to tackle diversity in organisations (and not just diversity of culture/gender etc) why are we all looking for the same thing?    This is where I see a great opportunity for organisations.
I’ve introduced diversity in graduate recruitment in the past and it has had a significant impact on diversity – not just diversity of backgrounds but of diversity of thinking.
If we really want to tack diversity – it should start with our graduates!