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Why is an automotive workshop like gender diversity?

My husband works with a lot of mechanics that own their own automotive workshops in the inner city region of Melbourne. Owning one of these workshops is like creating a gender diverse workforce in corporations.

These workshops are a dwindling breed (particularly in the inner city) because as other trade businesses are sold or taken over, apartments are generally built in their place. This means people are now living in, what was, a commercial zone.

Having people next to trade businesses means that local government is often forced to change regulations (restricting the times when trades can make noise, restricting parking, minimising workshop smells etc.). And it becomes harder and harder for these small businesses to stay in business in their location as trade becomes even more restricted. They say things like ‘these people knew what they were moving next to so they should be the ones accommodating our business not the other way around’.

That’s progress – which is difficult to stop. Often the only solution for them is to close or move further out and sell the premises (creating more apartments).

You may be asking ‘how is that like gender diversity’?

One of the issues with more women moving into senior roles is that the rules for how leaders at these levels operate are changing. Gone are the days (or going – let’s face it we have a long way to go!) when leaders could just tell or yell to get things done.

We are now looking for leaders who understand the individual needs of their team and adjust their behaviour accordingly; leaders who are being rated on their success based on their behaviours in how they lead others.

This means that our male leaders have to change and learn how to adopt these new behaviours. Or find the leaders who can. Gone (going) are also the days when we expect the women at senior levels to be just like the men and behave in the same way. We now want them to be themselves and to bring their diversity of thinking to the table. When they do this they are changing the status quo at the top, changing how things work, changing the rules.

While some men still say things like ‘the system has worked to date, why change things'; 'they’ll put a woman in the role who isn’t up to it’, just like inner city apartments moving in and changing the commercial landscape – that’s progress.

Corporations will (need to) continue to evolve and change as we focus increasingly on the depth of wisdom to be gained by created more diversity of thinking.

 

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