Kevin Roberts was recently quoted as stating about women professionals, “Their ambition is not a vertical ambition, it’s this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy. So they say: ‘We are not judging ourselves by those standards that you idiotic dinosaur-like men judge yourself by.’”
Without judgment about the prudence of his statements (which history will record as resulting in his resignation) or the factual truth (neuroscience has clearly demonstrated the incongruencies of his statements regarding the way women think), we must examine both the maturity model of the organizational, national, gender and generational issues associated with the gender “debate.”
Beyond that — Roberts’ quote is so telling about the lack of preparedness of senior executives to effectively address this issue publicly in a way that puts the company represented in the best possible light regarding gender parity awareness. The statistics, from the World Economic Forum to every major global consulting firm in the world support the fact that without a shift towards inclusive leadership, teaming, organizational policies and global community, that we will not reach gender parity for the better part of a century.
Most of us, men and women, if we are mentally and emotionally healthy, have the ambition to be happy. In terms of vertical ambition, some of us, men and women, may wish to rise to senior leadership for increased money, power, and status. The rest of us, men and women, want to rise to senior leadership so that we can assist our organizations, our people, and our mission to achieve through our thought-leadership, loyalty, and commitment to what our organizations stand for in the global economy and global community. The defining factor around this is not a gender issue, but rather an issue of individual ethos and personal mission of what we stand for as people and professionals on this earth.
Interestingly, we sometimes here from millennials that the “debate” on gender parity is over. For many, they are at the entry level of their respective companies and have not yet experienced the subtle (and sometimes obvious) barriers faced by women, particularly as the advance to senior positions. Saatchi Chairman, Kevin Roberts,’ recent statements that “the debate is over” cost him a suspension. Lack of awareness can sometimes put our organizations at risk.