Qn: “Does gender composition in a work set-up influence mood of employees? I recently joined a company with a good blend of males and females and I feel things are livelier here than where I previously in a male- dominated station”
Let us start with a study that continues to fascinate me because in a sense, it does not make sense, and yet is so freely discussed ever since its publication in the scientific magazine, Nature, in 1971.
It is a theory that is best described as menstrual synchronisation. It had been observed that when a group of women lived in close proximity, then their menstrual cycles seemed to move closer together and in the course of a few months, there was a measure of synchronisation of the dates of onset of their period.
Before we proceed, let me state here that though popular, this fascinating theory is the subject of fierce scientific debate, with some supporting it while others treat it with scepticism.
If indeed it turns out that this theory has some merit, then one must examine to see why this could be a desirable thing to happen. One might also want to know if this observation is the result of the environment that the women live in. The discussion requires clarification as to whether nature pulls the women together for some biological reason, or if indeed this is but a false observation.
This then brings us to your question, and why it is that the environment that you now find yourself in is much better than the one worked in before. To you, the answer is that the gender balance is the reason. Much as that might be the case, you must allow yourself to ponder other possibilities if you seek to understand the dynamics in full. Is it the gender balance that is good in the place, or might there be other reasons unreached to gender balance!
In a recent report, Safaricom stated that it had achieved gender parity in its human resource base, and in its endeavours to achieve greater social inclusivity and diversity it had taken deliberate measures to employ persons with disabilities. What Safaricom did not boast about is its very generous staff welfare schemes that include facilities for nursing mothers to attend to their babies. They also have generous terms for maternity leave. Good places to work might feel good for reasons beyond gender balance.
Do you work in a company that has internalised the concept of treating its staff members as its first and most important customer? If you have, then the gender balance is the most obvious externa example of a well-managed company that among other things has embraced gender balance.
A number of years ago, a leading company employed a consultant to study the business performance and to help the company put in place a 10-year plan for its growth. A well respected audit firm recommended an expert to do the study and in three months a most impressive report was placed before the board.
So impressed was the chairman by the flamboyant young expert that he was easily able to persuade the board to persuade the young man take up the job of managing director, to help the company implement this great vision.
The chairman was a large shareholder and the board accepted his recommendation. Three years later, the company was on its knees. The young man was excellent with figures but hopeless with people! He could not implement his own vision!
His plan was full of templates for the weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual reports that he demanded from the staff. As he often said (loudly) in management meetings, he did not care where the results came from as long as they were on his desk at the time that he had said he wanted them. He often said that he could not accept any form of human error or laziness.
The chief finance officer was the first to leave, followed by the internal auditor and finally the marketing manager. As the performance went down, his temper went higher and this was followed by an even higher turnover of staff.
When he was forced to resign, the company was a pale shadow of what it was when he took over. It has never recovered.
A bad manager destroyed a good company. It is possible you have (for good reasons) moved from a badly managed company to a well-managed company with gender balance!
Gender balance is an outward sign of a well-managed company.