The 3 Types of Strength That Will Lead to a Gender-Balanced Workforce

Monkey Business / Adobe Stock

woman leading a meeting

Monkey Business / Adobe Stock

Matthew Richards
Matthew Richards
April 23, 2024 at 7:55AM UTC

Many CEOs say that their company’s greatest asset is their people, but you must look deep inside a company’s talent acquisition tactics and strategy to know if this is true. Of course, attracting top talent is just the beginning; once the new hire is on board, the best leaders seek ways to keep them engaged and to hit new goals. This excellence should translate directly to revenues, and company growth, and overall success…and so it goes. 

But people cannot be their best when they work in an unsafe, disrespectful, and even dangerous environment. Women in corporate America have endured institutionalized persecution, bad behavior, and double standards, all with a lower wage than their male counterparts. We must be better than this. Time’s Up for this outdated system, for people who abuse their power, and for the gender-based wage gap. Courageous women broke the silence, and now we must all lend our voice. No more! Time’s Up!

I wrote several blogs this past year on various gender issues, and I am excited to lend my voice to the mission at Fairygodboss. Together we can show our commitment to a safe, secure, respect-based workplace, and let everyone know, “Time’s Up!”

Years ago I was sitting in my office, my back to the wall-sized window overlooking the Charles River in Cambridge on a crisp sunny fall day. I ignored this historic and picturesque view to stare intently at digital resumes on my monitor. Soon my boss would come in with one of the most common questions asked in retained search firms and recruiting environments around the world: “Where are the candidates?!”
I was intent to deliver results for my boss so I blew off my run along the river. I focused and found the candidate. You’ve likely been in that same high-pressure position searching for a candidate or a solution to some business problem, and I bet you found it too.
Years later, I see the importance of a little balance and reflection, but earlier in my career I prioritized speed and horsepower over quiet introspection. The TA profession tends to attract doers, so I know I’m not the only one. I jam-packed my schedule, stayed tightly organized, and earned results through action. This Nike-endorsed “Just do it” philosophy is common in our western world, and at times I still favor the power of measurable achievement over the harder-to-quantify strength that slowly comes from pensive reflection.
But any strength overused becomes a weakness, and we can become more of a “human doing” than a “human being.” In our careers, taking decisive action before deliberation can have disastrous results. I have learned to “measure twice, cut once,” to weave into my process some quiet contemplation. I can come up with a game-changing strategy by stepping away from the phone and taking a well-timed run along the river or through the woods.
Perhaps we can agree that there are different forms of strength. Perhaps we need some of each to be truly powerful. And maybe there are gender-based differences in accessing these strengths.
My most recent blog post addressed the gender-based wage gap. Historically Corporate America has apparently regarded males as the stronger gender, but I know too many powerful women to fall for that. Let’s consider defining the power of three different forms of strength: longevity, vitality and leadership.
Did you know that, in the current list of all US-based 28 supercentenarians (people at or above the age of 110), we have a George, Bernie, and Richard; the other 25 are all women. Science has proven that women live longer, perhaps because women are physiologically better able to withstand life’s challenges.
I was raised by a strong principle-driven woman. My mom has always been the backbone of our family. She rose to leadership positions in her career and took on extra coursework and training to powerfully advocate for marginalized people. I live my life with the reassuring knowledge that my mom has my back no matter what. She draws her strength from a seemingly bottomless well, perhaps aided by a biological predisposition to increased health, well-being and vitality. Whatever the reason, there’s no stopping her.
With longevity and vitality on their side, certainly women would be well-represented in the Fortune 500 executive suite, right? Sadly the statistics on women in leadership are an incontrovertible indication of institutionalized gender bias. According to this Fortune article, “One in four Americans believe humans will be able to time travel before half of Fortune 500 companies are led by women.” Women hold only 4% of the CEO positions in the Fortune 500 even though women outperform men on nearly all emotional intelligence measures required for effective leadership. We have made some gains in achieving gender balance, but we have far to go.
As a recruiter I work to help hiring managers see the strengths represented in diverse slates of candidates. The path to diversity and inclusion requires diligence and perseverance. If you hit a roadblock while exhausting all traditional recruiting strategies and tactics, maybe you will find inspiration on a beautiful run along the Charles River.
This article was originally published on the Digitally Cognizant Blog.

Matthew Richards the Director of Executive Talent Acquisition at Cognizant Technology Solutions. Follow him here on LinkedIn and on Twitter @MRichards84 to learn more about the Power of 3 applied to Recruiting and Talent Acquisition. 

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always