This article (http://www.vancouversun.com/story_print.html?id=7690795&sponsor) is typical of many that explain why the corporate culture doesn’t resonate with women. While the factors cited are all extremely important – glass ceiling, lack of parenting support, work/life balance undervalued – the deeper problem is the failure of conventional corporate cultures to honour the need people have to find meaning in the workplace. This need is more commonly expressed by women, but the desire to have our work lives touched by more than a paycheque transcends gender. It’s our archetypal imperative.
Policy and organizational changes have the ability to make the corporate ladder more amenable to women, increase flexible work schedules, and recognize the practical challenges of combining careers with raising a family. But the fact that so many professionals still feel alienated from the standard corporate culture after decades of legislative changes and company policy revisions reveals a deeper challenge. Many organizations still only acknowledge the fear-based world, the masculine domain of goals, duty, sacrifice and hierarchy. These elements help make organizations survive and expand, yet ironically, these same assets become liabilities when the love-based world values of authenticity, meaning, consensus and self-expression are neglected.
The first pillar of Balanced Leadership is recognition that we live in and indeed need to honour two related but distinctly different worlds. We need the attributes of both worlds to develop healthy, thriving organizations that balance the needs of the company (profit, growth, predictability, objectives) with the needs of the people that form the company (fulfillment, belonging, creativity and meaning).
When a major portion of the work force feels their voices “are lost or suppressed” then it’s not employees that need to change, but the organizations that hope to use their talents. Employees can also take steps to make space for more meaning in their work when they have a conscious understanding of what is lacking and how to get it. Recognizing the qualities of both worlds is an important step towards making that change.