International Women’s Day and the Importance of Hiring Beyond Numbers

By Kirstyn Hevey

Thursday is International Women’s Day. This week we’re not just celebrating women’s successes and efforts, we are also reminding ourselves how much work is still needed to achieve gender equality. In light of International Women’s Day, I offer some thoughts on why diversity and gender mandates matter, and how TribalScale is working to reduce substantive as well as qualitative gender disparities.

“Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.”

- UN Secretary General, António Guterres

In 2014 McKinsey released a report entitled “Why diversity matters.” The research importantly identified a positive correlation between diversity (gender and ethnic) and financial growth — profit and growth now accompany incentives of social justice and corporate social responsibility. But correlation doesn’t imply causation, and I’m left wondering why diversity leads to financial out-performance and if ascriptive hiring meaningfully helps women realize their full potential.

It’s important to understand that achieving diversity in the workplace is not just about hitting a 50:50 ratio or having x number of women in leadership roles. Reducing the conversation to a matter of numbers and stats doesn’t address the base issue: Does hiring for diversity reduce substantive disparities and empower women?

Consider the incident at Uber, a (now resigned) board member said that more women on the leadership teams means “more talking” — it’s an issue of perception and implicit bias. We need to go beyond quantitative indicators and instead address more qualitative variables: roles, clout, and perceptions.

I believe that TribalScale is making great strides in this direction.

A recent article published in the American Journal of Sociology found that team-based work positively influences the proportion of women in managerial positions. Team-based work increases collaboration between employees across the organization (no matter what department and level). Teamwork therefore provides new avenues and opportunities for an employee to demonstrate their capabilities, and be treated as a peer and colleague. Collaboration and teamwork are essential to the TribalScale process. Every project involves members from each team, the leadership team is readily available and eager to involve themselves in activities on the floor, and everyone has the potential to be fully self-directed. The TribalScale method and organizational culture effectively reduces perceptions of individualism and fosters a strong support network that cuts through dividing lines. Every single person is valued on their merit.

Women often consider lack of visibility to be an important barrier to advancement, and many women (once in leadership positions) adopt and emphasize masculine traits, which are the traditional markers of ‘good’ leadership. Such practices are insufficient for altering gendered power structures and the perspective of leadership-as-masculine. True diversity is about incorporating traits and perspectives that are not traditionally typical of ‘leadership’ (read: masculine). A diverse team is one that values a variety of attributes and approaches to work. Women in managerial and leadership positions can be agents of change by challenging the traditional understanding of leadership. TribalScale certainly abides by this viewpoint. With multiple women on the TribalScale leadership team — Kirstine Stewart, Anisa Berisha, Jane Motz Hayes, and Rachel Wexler — and recent promotions, we are seeing a variety of leadership styles and characteristics across the board. TribalScale is advancing women in every aspect, there is equality of opportunity and outcome. The team is breaking down barriers and inspiring women and girls in tech.

Empowerment and equality go well-beyond gender and we must consider cross-cutting systems of oppression to empower all women. I believe that TribalScale is taking steps in the right direction and is truly working to lift all. TribalScale supports the Ontario Association of Food Banks, the SickKids Foundation, the Upside Foundation, and #movethedial. However, the team is providing much more than financial support. Our close partnership with #movethedial is strengthening and widening the network, and together we’re fostering an even stronger community for all women’s empowerment. TribalScale Venture Studios is sharing its resources and know-how with startups and enterprises, which is helping to break down barriers to entry and success. And TribalScale’s approach to diversity ensures that the full talent pool is considered and more women are able to thrive in a male dominated industry. TribalScale is changing the landscape.

The McKinsey report stresses the links between diversity and financial growth, but for full empowerment, profit incentives aren’t enough. Root issues and implicit biases need to be tackled, and we must support women, and all individuals in all spheres. I am proud and honoured to be working at TribalScale, a company that is truly taking strides to raise every individual, understands the importance of cross-cutting differences, and embraces real diversity.

About the author

Kirstyn is TribalScale’s Content Writer. She is the team’s wordsmith and lead proofreader. Kirstyn is committed to accessible and available content, and its power to connect people.

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