“Be the change you wish to see in the world” is a wonderful sentiment attributed to the Mahatma (sanskrit for “Great Soul”) that was Gandhi.
What he actually said was “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. ”
Similar, yet even more powerful.
How often are we dissonant with ourselves ? Do we say one thing but do another ?
For me, what am I doing about that ? What is the change I am being in order to make change ?
As a privileged white male, one area I have taken on for years is in promoting diversity ? So many words, yet so little tangible results in our world. As I wrote recently :
I am simply all about change and being the change I wish to see in the world. I am purposeful and passionate about diversity of thought, as well as helping others #BeMoreYou.
What am I doing about it ?
One of the areas I focus on is in mentoring women. This is something I have always done, added to which the majority of my coaching clients over the years have been women leaders.
Despite decades of talk, we are still a very long way away from diversity of thought being present where decisions are made in our world, whether that be in the workplace, in board rooms, in politics, in community action. Wherever you look, women are almost always under-represented.
One of my favourite books of recent years is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. She clearly is someone who has a life purpose around empowering women, and she lives this wherever she finds an avenue.
Recently she launched #MentorHer through the LeanIn site. Please take a look at the site and consider what you may choose to commit to.
For women reading, ask yourself what you can do to lean in to this, what men could you ask to mentor you ? If you would like to talk to an inspiring confidence coach, Patrycja Skurzak approached me a few year ago via Linked In as she started her journey as a confidence coach. I’ve mentored her for years and she has inspired me. It all started with her leaning in, having the confidence to ask to talk to me. Talk to Patrycja about leaning in to this, having the confidence to ask for what you need in all spaces !
For men reading, ask yourself what you can do to focus upon mentoring women. I’m also happy to talk to you, first listening to what drives you and what you feel you can do, then, where it resonates, share my thoughts and advice from my own experience.
For now, a few thoughts from me based on that experience.
First, we need radical positive discrimination to really effect change in diversity of all forms (and, as per the “My Work” page, this goes beyond gender diversity, though this post today has that focus). Yes, I get and agree with the argument that one should always look for the best person, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, orientation… and yet we are failing to represent adequately beyond the “pale, male and stale” stereotype, so we need discrimination in a positive sense to effect change !
A few real examples as ideas. I’ve used and still do use these for positive discrimination.
- If you are facilitating a Q&A, always take the first question from a woman. Always.
- If you are asked to be on a panel discussion, ask them who the other speakers are. Note to the organiser that you won’t be on any panel without a woman speaker.
- If you have the chance to select from a group of qualified candidates for a key internship, filter it to choose a woman.
- Make your first hire a woman (edited to note a caveat from feedback from a woman leader, “if you are only hiring one person then that woman you have hired first had better be the best person for the job. Lots of women wouldn’t want to be that person otherwise.”)
- If forming a peer group and setting up meetings through connecting with contacts, focus on women and other diverse groups for your initial members so as to create diversity of thought consciously.
- Create and launch a women’s leadership group. Yes, I did this, though at the time felt I couldn’t be part of it, I just conceived it and made the launch happen.
Finally, be part of groups supporting women in leadership. See point 6 above, where my own discomfort used to make me shy away from this. However, women themselves kept asking me to participate, so as the Mahatma said “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” Also, the #MentorHer site notes that men are increasingly uncomfortable working with (and mentoring) women. Step out, lean in, get comfortable being uncomfortable, change the conversation.