For international woman’s day, I attended a session called ‘A Woman’s Worth’ organised by the Institute of Directors.
Working as a management consultant and having started my career as a soil scientist, I am very used to operating in a predominantly male environment. I feel completely at ease in this environment and normally don’t think about gender balance (or imbalance). Not, until I attended last weeks ‘A Woman’s Worth’ session.
So, what was so special about this gathering? First of all, it was a nearly completely female event, which consisted of a sharing of very personal and intimate stories. Even by the only male speaker. Many stories of bravery: brave to be your authentic self, how to overcome depression or abuse. All stories shared the same theme: You must be brave to show your vulnerability. Be kind and open to connect to others as only by doing this can you be your authentic self- which is needed for trust to allow creativity and innovation. Powerful stories indeed.
As I said before, I am seldom bothered by a predominantly male working environment, but this feminine setting did something to me. Somehow, I felt more comfortable and at ease than I normally would, which empowered me to participate at a level in which I surprised myself. By doing so, I got so much more out of the evening than I normally would and in turn was able to contribute to a meaningful discussion.
This made me realise that the importance of diversity goes beyond having a few token women on a committee or a board. Gender balance means that there need to be enough woman present to ensure that those women feel perfectly at ease. Only when we can be our authentic self, will we be able to unleash our full potential and contribute in our maximum capacity.