Curated By: Hazel Herrington & Karen McDermott (and Co-authors)
Publisher: KMD Books, Australia
Year of Publishing: 2022
Reviewer: Wangari Njoroge
The global business world’s landscape is transforming, marking the decline of the traditional image of a white, middle-aged male as the predominant figure at the helm.
In their stead, a fresh breed of leaders is emerging—individuals who recognize and appreciate the significance of diversity.
According to Hazel Herrington and Karen McDermott, in the beautifully curated Lady Diversity Power, diversity extends beyond mere considerations of race or gender and rather encompasses the inclusion of different perspectives, backgrounds, and a multitude of ideas.
In a corporate environment where every individual feels empowered to be authentic, creativity and innovation flourish.
The inclusivity also fosters higher levels of engagement and motivation, ultimately driving enhanced overall performance.
“We are living in a time of great change; rapid advances in technology and globalization are transforming every way we live and work. In this rapidly changing world, diversity is more important than ever,” states H.E Laila Rahhal El Atfani in the book’s foreword.
Lady Diversity Power is a collection of essays from 16 female leaders who provide a wealth of information and insights about the importance of diversity, especially in running winning businesses and other professional engagements.
The contributors include leaders in business, government, academia and the non-profit sector.
Why diversity is the new way of doing business
In her chapter, Hazel Herrington’s primary reason was to empower women entrepreneurs who change challenges when it comes to starting and running businesses and, more so, in male-dominated industries.
As a migrant woman from Africa, she narrates how her transition to Australia to start a business posed a lot of obstacles, but she did not allow these challenges to deter her from pursuing her aspirations.
Herrington agrees that promoting diversity is not always easy.
However, she encourages those facing similar challenges to have a collective stance of unity and support in advocating for one’s rights in the workplace.
“Diversity is not only good for business, it’s essential for success. When businesses embrace diversity, they open themselves up to new ideas, perspectives and ways of thinking that can help them grow and thrive,” Herrington states in her chapter.
She gives a few suggestions on what can be done to improve diversity in the workplace:
- Educate yourself and your team about the benefits of diversity.
The advantages of workplace diversity are far-reaching, benefiting organizations in numerous ways.
Diversity fosters enhanced problem-solving, creativity and communication among teams.
It equally catalyzes innovation and an improved understanding of the customer base, ultimately driving business success.
- Be aware of your own biases and work to overcome them.
According to Herrington, recognizing and conquering personal biases is a path to informed decision-making and sound judgment.
This involves acknowledging when personal interests or incomplete information may influence opinions and obscure objectivity potentially leading to erroneous conclusions.
Overcoming biases demands diverse strategies, seeking additional information and perspectives to widen one’s view.
- Foster a culture of inclusion in your workplace.
Fostering a culture of inclusion encompasses a spectrum of factors, including socioeconomic status, religion, age, abilities, and ethnicity, just to mention a few.
This endeavor necessitates a collective commitment from every member of an organization to not only recognize but also honor the diversity that enriches the workforce.
Why? Then how?
In the second chapter of the Lady Diversity Power anthology, Annie Gibbins, a global women’s empowerment coach and CEO, states that recognizing a problem is the first step toward solving it.
She notes that the world has undergone scrutiny at the hands of a pandemic, a war, and an economic backlash.
Her chapter identifies different problems that women entrepreneurs go through, such as disproportionate gender pay gaps and lost women leaders due to Covid-19, among others.
She uses statistics from Australia to show how gender inequality is a pestilence and asks women leaders to identify them and why they need to be dealt with.
On page 67 of the book, Joanna James, a successful business founder, picks Gibbins’ thought to show that when the Why is clear, the How becomes easy.
She opens by saying, “Why—the three most powerful letters in existence. By asking this simple question we find purpose and meaning in everything….”
Ms. James condemned diversity for diversity’s sake, which lacks evaluation of why diversity is important and noting which type of diversity is required in different situations: diversity of thinking and of experience.
The future is diverse
In chapters 4, 7, 11, and 12 of the Lady Diversity Power collection, the style and content of the authors seek to identify the role of diversity in the digital era, the role of media in promoting diversity, and how we can revolutionize education for women through radicalization of the learning curriculum.
Notably, the language used is female-dominated as the chapters aim to encourage the girl child to be more resilient in the changing entrepreneurial spectrum.
Dr. Ingrid Vasiliu Feltes, in her chapter, notes the impact of women in deep tech, AI, Blockchain, and Quantum.
She notes that there are ample challenges in terms of the gender gap and recommends ethical leadership, which means that women leaders who want to succeed in this highly virtualized, digitized, and hyperconnected environment will be required to display a complex armamentarium of novel skills.
These skills needed are further discussed by Dr. Khomotso Mashalane, a women empowerment advocate, on Page 80, where she notes that there has to be a change in learning and teaching.
She advocates for gender equality in the education system, which will, in turn, promote the development of skills.
In line with equality in all spectrums of life, media entities have been noted as notorious for sidelining women.
Toni Lontis, an international TV and Radio host, in her chapter, stated, “As subjects of stories, women only appear in a quarter of television, radio and print news. In a 2015 report, women made up a mere 19% of experts featured in news stories and 37% of reporters telling stories globally.” (Pg 126)
This goes to show that when media shapes beliefs and perceptions, it is more likely to misrepresent women’s views as they are not well represented on the platform.
Generally, gender favoritism in tech, education, and news locks out diversity in workplaces as women’s points of view are not put into consideration.
Lady Diversity Power is a book written by women for women to break down invisible barriers that they set for themselves simply because they are diverse.
The book shows that diversity in all walks of life is important as it gives broader meaning to life.
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Global women leaders who have co-authored this masterpiece encourage women who want to venture into business to find seats in leadership tables and lead the way to economic development.