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No diversity without men

04/07/2022

Im Executive Search, especially when it comes to filling top source, there is currently almost no mandate where the desired profile in the briefing is not: female, young - in multinational companies also women of color.

Diversity without men?

Who would seriously disagree that more diversity in the corporate world is a right and important and, above all, long overdue goal?

In my experience, with very few exceptions, almost all men have understood this and live and support it. The topic has been on the agenda for years, if not decades. At first, the nice word garlands were departmental declarations of intent. That has changed fundamentally. For the past two or three years, companies have been serious, I would even say deadly serious. A nice-to-have has become a must-have. And the bigger the company, the more radical the claim. Sometimes bonuses are linked to the achievement of certain quotas for women. Here one becomes, and I say this with all caution, rather generous in the interpretation of the requirements. As is the case when you have chronically underestimated things and overslept, the pendulum now swings with full force to the other side. With the result: Times have never been better for women to start their careers. That is the good news. The bad: There is collateral damage.

"In an ideal world, with unlimited resources of highly educated women - especially those in the IT and tech environment - none of this would be a big deal, to put it casually."

Of course, one would also have to ask oneself where the men are (more on that in a moment). But as a recruiter you would do business as usual. We would no longer have to fiddle with the crowbar, but elegantly with the foil. En garde! Allez! Touché!

It's not like that. That's not a big surprise. As a personnel consultant, we find a market that is what it is. We have little control function here, but have to live and work with the status quo. And I know the saying, "Where there's a will, there's a way." Where he is absent, there are many excuses.”

Yes, we are creative. And yes, we also think outside the box, into other sectors or abroad. Nevertheless, that's not enough to fill the position with pinpoint accuracy. What then happens more and more often is that women are hired who are good, but who are not yet that advanced in terms of their development and skills. crowbar, remember? This then becomes on-the-job training, often backed up by male, more experienced colleagues.

"It's not without a certain tragedy. Men, especially the model old white man, have become a slow seller. Almost impossible to convey. Almost an endangered species.”

It happens that managers call me, late 50s and highly motivated to change jobs again. I have many mandates where the expertise fits 100 percent. The gender and age but not 100 percent. I can't do anything for her. Especially with the highly attractive, the “cool” companies. The market, which is also a rather new finding, is completely divided here. A smaller medium-sized company that pays little attention to external impact or where the ESG package has not yet been delivered may be even more flexible.

Yes, that is discriminatory. The project of inclusion is promoted with exclusion. We are in the middle of an upheaval, economically, socially, (geo)politically. And as always, when the tectonics shift, it comes with a few major injuries. The "A" in VUCA actually stands not only for ambiguity, but for "ouch". We are in a transitional period with conflicting goals. In our case: gender balance versus equal treatment. In terms of a larger, overarching goal, you have to choose the lesser evil, willy-nilly.

"We've only talked about symptoms so far. The complete picture (if that is at all possible with this highly complex topic) also includes the question of the causes.”

Why are there so few suitable women on the job market? You end up here again and again and inevitably with the culture. A tear-off edge appears, especially after the first child. Centrifugal forces are at work here (woman cancels career project and takes refuge in part-time job) that can no longer be ignored. And here we come directly to the responsibility of the company. They must be able to retain these talents and offer them attractive conditions, no matter what phase of life they are in. By the way, also the young fathers. It would help tremendously if compatibility became a parenting issue. And yes, we also have to talk about the personal responsibility of young women. We know that girls are no more or less gifted in mathematics and science. On the way to the university in the direction of STEM subjects you have lost a large part. In a study by EY, the majority of young female students indicated that they would like to work in administration. And here the misery begins.

Which brings us back to the beginning: where are the men? We need to close the gap, sure. But we also need to keep reminding ourselves of the nature of diversity. Diversity. In all dimensions. That also includes men, without whom it won't work. Even the old white men. Otherwise the pendulum will become a wrecking ball in the long run.

So what to do? We keep recruiting. Whatever else. We are professionals. The crowbar in one hand, the other already grabs the foil.

Interview with Oliver Badura, COO of HAGER Executive Consulting GmbH with F10! FemaleOneZero

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