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Learn to Adapt?

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

Lifelong leaders are lifelong learners. I set myself a goal to learn something new every day; every week; and every year.

One year ago, for International Women's Day, I wrote an article about the differences between the way men and women view job descriptions when applying for a new role.

I had the altruistic purpose of starting a debate and discussion on some of the factors that lead to the disgrace that is gender inequality in the workplace.

What I wasn't expecting (but am not upset by) is some of the controversy that it caused.

In that article I was encouraging women to be bolder and more assertive in their career aspirations and compared the different ways that men and women approach applying for, and interview for, a job.

The underlying premise is that women would tend to not apply for a role where they don't fit all of the selection criteria and that men would apply even if they only met half.

This is a generalisation and all generalisations are unfair; some are useful.

The theory is that this creates an in-built imbalance in the recruiting funnel that then filters through to gender imbalance in the organisation.

So, where did the controversy come in and what did I learn from that experience? A key question that was posed to me by someone I admire, "why should we change, shouldn't we just be ourselves?".

“why should we change, shouldn't we just be ourselves?”

This made me stop and think and challenge more than just the core topic. For example, why do recruiters and hiring managers put out a shopping list of selection criteria instead of a targeted list of just the essential criteria? Rather than asking women to be more assertive, should we be asking men to be more humble?

So, for International Women's Day 2021, I #choosetochallenge and ask you all to consider, who and what needs to change to make a meaningful impact to gender balance and inequity.

What action will you to take to address this issue once and for all? The collective actions of all us will result in big change. We must believe and we must act.

Should women really be asked to "Learn to Adapt" or should it be the system and society that makes the shift?

Shouldn't we put a higher value on authenticity?

In many respects the recruiting and interviewing environment is abstracted from reality in any case. The more we can create a process and approach that allows someone to just be themselves, the better we would be able to assess key attributes such as attitude, aptitude and culture fit.

I leave you with these thoughts the next time you are applying for, or recruiting for, a new role.

What are your unconscious biases in that process (as both applicant and recruiter)?

How do you put those biases aside?

How can we create a process that values authenticity above all else?

For your consideration.


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