Gender and business

Tuesday, December 07, 2010    

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Dear Editor,

Society has defined roles for men and women, based primarily on muscles and courage, empathy and creativity, but as mechanisation and technology make physical work easier, the roles have become an individual decision, with women successfully entering traditionally male-dominated fields and becoming wage-earners. Society is losing its caregivers. Many writers on this topic take a side as to the many disadvantages women face and feel that men have become weak, but this letter takes the view of a parent wanting the best from both sons and daughters. More important, are these changing roles best for society, a growing economy and business activities?

Society has and will always have strong leaders, some more recognisable than others, but all of equal importance to the segments of society they lead and affect. The encouraging teacher or religious leader that leaves their moral stamp, the lawyer that speaks out for justice, the health care professional that supports and promotes wellness, the postal worker and garbage collector who indirectly teach dedication by operating on time - all these committed workers make a positive contribution to their society. Gender does not seem to be that important here - what is crucial is the encouragement of morals, the justice, the wellness, and the dedication.

A growing or expanding economy must reach everyone. The gap between haves and have-nots must be reduced in order to minimise crime and unrest. Nature will always provide some destabilising force or natural disaster to hamper economic growth. Crime and unrest are not needed. Planners lead the quest in education and health care to develop an economy that is diverse in its revenue generation, by preparing a highly skilled workforce and a healthy and secure environment. Implementing such plans, using the available resources falls to the elected executive, supported by the legislature, to make changes to the rules, and with the judiciary enforcing existing laws. Again, there is no mention of gender.

Business operating in such a society, under the present state of the economy, needs well-thought-out ideas, sufficiently funded, adequately regulated and implemented by highly trained and experienced teams. A strategic plan addressing all foreseeable issues to respond quickly to market changes and meet the projected returns, while fulfilling all stakeholders' needs; providing satisfactory working conditions for all employees, paying suppliers, meeting expenses, servicing loans and issuing dividends. The business idea is the root of job creation, investment opportunities, economic expansion and social development. Whether such ideas come from a man or woman is irrelevant.

The gender difference is in management styles which, if the objectives are achieved and can be sustained in the long term, are the right fit for that particular enterprise or sector. Most women gravitate to service-based business, interacting with many people, while men prefer production or equipment repair. This does not mean that management skills have any gender bias. The skill to disagree without being offensive or holding a grudge is lesson one in leadership.

Terrance Jennings




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