He For She: Why We Need Grassroots Change In Diversity

Published on
March 8, 2017

by: Karthik Sundaram

He For She: Why We Need Grassroots Change In Diversity

State Street today installed a little girl standing down the iconic Wall Street Bull, signaling gender diversity as a way to improve company performance and increase shareholder value. “Even though it’s a little girl, her stance is one of determination, forwardness, and being willing to challenge and take on the status quo,” says Lori Heinel, State Street’s deputy global chief investment officer.

Take a look at Twitter and Facebook, both are afire with everyone wishing all women a Wonderful or Happy or Whatever Woman’s Day. What happens on March 9? We go back to our normal routine and continue as though just this one day’s set of greetings is all we owe to women. This is probably the worst disservice we can do to ourselves as men.

My sister, Dr Purnima Kumar, a faculty at the Ohio State University, is a widely published research scientist, and works with the FDA on oral cancer. She has continually pushed for the theme of “He For She,” it is not just enough for women to stand up for women, we men have to stand up for them too.

Wall Street, the Silicon Valley, Education are all guilty of ignoring or wantonly being insulting to women. Take Uber, or any financial institution in New York, and for that matter, academia in any US university: women are definitely getting off worse despite their growing clout in spending power, decision making, and education.

Here are three things we all men can do on Linkedin, starting today:

  • Stop ogling and flirting: While Uber has been hit with sexual harassment scandals, Linkedin is a time-bomb waiting to explode. I am increasingly seeing women asking Linkedin members to stop reaching out to them to ask them out, flirt, or being openly sexual. Now that Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner have sold out, I am openly asking Satya Nadella to take control over Linkedin and stop such unbecoming actions by members. You have massive AI and ML capabilities to block these harassers, and I hope you can put these tools to good use today.
  • Hire for diversity, train for skill: The storied Sand Hill Road venture capitalists are lame bastards, trotting out excuses that they cannot find enough diversity to hire. But they will unhesitatingly hire a Caucasian Ivy League MBA fresh graduate to become a board observer whose experience isn’t enough to even wipe his backside. The respected Heidi Roizen has recounted how she was asked to meet these people outside their offices, and was presented with their manhood in open desire. This is just the venture crowd. Think of what happens in Wall Street. We are more than missing a 50% chance to build a culture by not hiring women. We miss out that they are different from men, and that in itself a 100% increase to our team asset and culture. And when we treat them as equals, the results are spectacular. My favorite sales rockstar, Aleta Niksadat, even today opens doors for Purplepatch wherever she goes. We cannot get this loyalty for money or love. As a Linkedin member, if you are a hiring manager or CEO, it is a simple decision to ensure that at least half your open positions are hiring women. My client and friend, Amar Panchal, is a proud supporter of this cause, and runs a service to empower women to return to work.
  • Celebrate a diversity story every week: Linkedin allows us to post meaningful stuff. Rather than post dumb quizzes or memes for geniuses, get a grip and read about a woman’s success story. Anywhere. Post it in your profile. See how your ranking improves, and in turn, how your mental models improve. It isn’t difficult. And you know what, those success stories are normally far more interesting than how you changed your new job and have a deskful of branded gifts.

I will be starting a He For She series on Linkedin, and welcome everyone to reach out and tell me how you have supported women in your life today. I will be delighted to interview and publish your success story.

In respectful awe of the most powerful being on Earth, to the women I know who continue to break norms and build great paths for themselves, and to women the world around.

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