Ethical Leadership: Women do better!
Today, I opened door n° 68 at 9:15 am. I took a seat and made a coffee.
There were ten people working this morning, eight of them were women. Mothers, wives or girlfriends. But it seemed everyone had something in common: a potential for ethical leadership.
According to a study at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, women are less ready to compromise their ethical values for money and social status.
It sounds good, but let’s try to understand why and how.
Firstly, ethical leadership is about understanding your core values and having the courage to express them in all parts of your life, in service of the common good.
It starts with an inner journey, in search of values which define one’s own identity, developing a vision as a frame to articulate one’s actions, and finally, finding the voice with which to express it, in order to lead the whole community.
It sounds like this person would be organised, with a deep commitment to her priorities, able to juggle work and everyday life, never once taking their eyes off their goals, always ready to serve others, following a moral code. It looks almost like a portrait of a mother.
Supporting this thesis, Liz Earle, British entrepreneur, but foremost a mother of five children, reveals that the working mothers’ approach is the key to success in an interview released in the Irish Times on 30th September 2014.
She told the Irish Times: “I always say if you want something done well ask a woman, but if you want something done really well and fast, ask a busy woman.”
According to Liz, women are able to think faster than men, because they naturally have to do so. She co-founded the Liz Earle Beauty Company in 1995 when she was a young, working mother, sold it fifteen years later to Avon. Today, it is a global brand with 600 employees.
Jessica Kennedy, the paper’s lead researcher and a post-doctoral fellow in Legal Studies and Business Ethics at Wharton, said: “It is the very need of ethics that is driving many of us to talk about bringing the ‘feminine’ relational characteristics to the masculine ‘wield power’ characteristics of the workplace.”
Nevertheless, the headline of a global development article on the Guardian, entitled “Women are better off today, but still far from being equal with men”, explains that, despite the improvement in women’s role, in both industry and government, the faces remain stubbornly male. According to the statistics, the number of women owning a small and medium-sized business is estimated to be between 8 and 10 million.
An article in The Independent published on of the 28th September reports the initiative of one of the world’s leading executive headhunters, Egon Zehnder, to end the male dominance in the boardrooms of the UK’s top firms. Under the guidance of Miranda Pode, the managing director, Egon Zehnder has promised to re-organise the male-dominated executive roles, to push women to the top of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies.
Currently, there are just five women covering the big boss role, such as Carolyn McCall of Easyjet, Véronique Laury of Kingfisher and Olivia Garfield of Severn Trent.
It seems women cover support roles but are far from the leadership of a company.
You could ask me why. I could reply to you with another question that could be useful for reflection. If it is true that women are potential ethical leaders, following core values in their actions in the business more than men, the lack of female faces at the top of companies leaves open some questions:
- Is ethics still a taboo in developing business topics?
- Considering the wish to renovate the male-dominated executive positions, can ethics and business work together to innovate the old view of business?
- Can following a moral code save the business or is it just blocking the interests of other parties?
- Can core values and showing the emotional side of a company create an engaging environment in the office and transmit it to the clients?
- Can clients be more engaged, feel like a part of a community, be more mindful of their real necessities?
If the answer to all the questions above is yes, it means you are ready to start the change. Put the business in the hands of a woman, she will make sure it is successful.