Sameness Doesn’t Create Diversity

by | Feb 1, 2020

I was at a meeting. The meeting facilitator, who was heading up a buying committee, said:

“We’re conceptualizing a synergistic, seamless process for cross-functionally creating an end-to-end infrastructure solution using a minimum of human capital and leveraging technology on the back-end”

To which I desperately WANTED to reply, “WTF?” Why don’t they just say they’re looking for an automated solution that all departments can use?

Why do some corporate leaders have to co-opt as many words from the English language as possible in each sentence? Why not just talk normally?

As an entrepreneur selling into huge corporations and interacting with the talented people at their headquarters, I would often feel anxiety about being assimilated into their cultures of homogenous standardization. I know it might sound dramatic, but for me, the sensation was palpable.

While many of these companies had extensive programs supporting gender and ethnic diversity, I always felt like I’d better not let my thinking, language, and appearance appear too, shall we say, unique.

In other words, I’d better stay in line.

As excellent as these corporations were at creating inclusivity programs, they (as well as the government clients I called on) uniformly fostered an absence of the playful, dynamic energy that takes place in my company, which we intentionally created via a collaboration of masculine and feminine energies. Perhaps this explains why at these large organizations, I observed relative states of energetic lethargy (instead of enthusiasm) among the otherwise fantastic folks who worked there.

The fact of the matter was that these large corporations were still my bread and butter, so I developed my own process of self-protection to visit their offices.

First, I’d pick out a conservative suit— one in which the color, cut, and fabric didn’t stand out or distract. Then, after arriving at the meeting, I’d try to remember to say all the right abstract corporate jargon,  and none of the wrong things, like curse words, compliments, colloquialisms, and jokes. I would go on pretending to enjoy using incredibly complex lingo to describe simple concepts.

Meanwhile, I’d connect with the meeting participants on a very mental or intellectual level, as opposed to belly-laughing or feeling into a solution. As soon as it was over, I’d go back to my hotel and take off what felt like my costume.

For the longest time, when I would meet female managers in the defense and consulting industry corporate environments, I often experienced them as slightly standoffish. I finally realized these women were not connecting with me as a typical woman would, and that was precisely the reason why they were given a seat at the table.

This is one of the main drivers in my pursuit of advancing feminine leadership, because if we don’t allow a woman to embody and draw from the energy of her feminine form, how will we ever allow the world to benefit from a female perspective?

Sadly, most corporations (and government agencies) continue to praise inclusivity but reward efforts of conformity and uniformity.

Of course, when men tone down their masculine tendencies and women tone down their overtly feminine qualities, it serves the purpose of not attracting unwanted advances or giving off the perception of them. But unfortunately, this dialing back of energy is also hindering one of our primary sources of creative power.

I find this entropic tendency causes everyone to meet in the middle, causing achievement, success, and innovation to suffer.

Hopefully, with the success of the #metoo movement to bring awareness of inappropriate behavior and taking these energies too far, I’m sure the corporate world will figure it out. Fortunately for us entrepreneurs, the same energy that large corporations suppress is what empowers us.

In my company, the bulk of my management team is from a certain religion that embodies strict moral compasses due to their beliefs; however, all of us draw upon our natural tendencies for masculine and feminine styles of leadership, which makes the culture more enlivening.

The way I see it, the lack of playful energy and enthusiasm in big corporations is sad.

Life is supposed to be full of enjoyment, self-expression, and fulfillment, not monotony, repression, and the denial of one’s highest potential. After all, isn’t contrast part of what makes life interesting?

For a well-known illustration of what I’m talking about, if you watch the TV show Shark Tank, the hosts (investors who became self-made billionaires) achieved their success by dialing up their masculine or feminine energy— rather than dialing it down. The women on the show seem to play to their uniquely nurturing perspectives, rather than trying to entrain to the men’s. How do I know this? You can tell just by listening to them and watching the interaction of their mannerisms.

I’m not talking about flirting. They’re all alpha males and females who are NOT suppressing their natural magnetic nature in each other’s presence. Instead, they seem to channel it into the business at hand. (If you’ve watched the show and don’t recognize this, you may not have spent enough time in large corporate or government agencies to make the comparison). So, it’s not surprising that there would be a phenomenon like a glass cliff for women because merging these energies is part of what sparks a passion for success.

Most women are team players who operate function well in family systems. In my experience, running a company that allows for the promotion of distinctly feminine behaviors leads to utilizing masculine and feminine energies to create something more significant. It’s a creation equation: 1 + 1 = 3

Allowing ourselves to be influenced (and influencing) those with different energies than ourselves results in a truly diverse workplace and a healthier organization. See if you can spot an opportunity in your company to appreciate someone who’s got diverse energy from you today.