When a colleague told me about the LEAD Network Europe, and I read about what it is and what it does, I immediatelly joined. There was never a question in my mind whether or not this is a cause worth supporting.
I feel very strongly about equality. We all have deserved to be given the same chance. What we do with that chance is then up to every single person.
For almost 30 years now I’ve worked in very diverse teams. Mixed gender, vastly different age groups, mixed generations, mixed nationalities, mixed levels, mixed everything, and while it can be a welcome challange as a leader, I know the outcome is almost always better than the sum of its parts.
If you have more diverse “parts”, then the sum is larger, and the outcome even better. It’s so simple. The LEAD Network Europe not only understands that, but lives and promotes it and I soon became part of the Marketing Committee. #DoingNotTrying resonated with me, there are so many things nowadays that we just have to live with and can’t do anything about. But here, finally, I was able to make a difference with my oddly diverse skillset.
Shortly afterwards the #metoo movement started and on International Women’s Day 2018 there was flood of posts throughout all Social Media that momentarily drowned out all the rest. I believe it was also a silent tipping point. Suddenly #diversity and #metoo got mashed together, blowing each other up and soon also the last blogger and evangelist of one or the other topic was hopping onto the bandwagon, profiting from its speed and range.
We – humanity has a very unhealthy habit that I believe is the most likely to destroy us one day:
We take something good and promote it until some fanatics come along and push it over the top, warping it into something bad and partly or fully destroying the positive effect that it had at the beginning. Extremes are always destructive, no matter which face they have, and this applies to every topic.
Am I afraid of political extremists? Sure, who isn’t. I’m likewise afraid of an extreme housewife/houseman, who cleans so much with steriliser that her/his child has every allergy in the book, because she/he never was exposed to any bacteria in order to form anti-bodies.
My husband, who speaks on Internet Security conferences all over the world, recently told me a story he witnessed. A women applied to speak on a conference and was accepted, but in the end she didn’t speak there, because her reimbursment demands were way over the budget of the organisers. She responded with dissing the event on social media, for clearly favouring men, aiming to ruin the reputation of the event. Now while more and more women are working in Internet Security, the number of men is still a lot higher historically, and that is not the fault of the organisors of this event (nor is their budget constraints).
And herein lies the danger. It is often marked by the abandonment of common sense.
We have worked so hard to get this boat afloat and gaining speed. Now finally it has caught the breeze and is making a good headway.
Now it seems, some out there want to utilize the wind in the sails and load the boat down with their own agendas, whether it be personal advantage, ego-stroking, feminism or domination over men.
The problem is, that this will in the long term harm the whole movement.
It is easy to be passionate about something. The challenge is that we live in a world of polarities and if we don’t find and maintain the balance, it will inevitably tumble into the other extreme. The challenge is to work towards a healthy balance, despite the fact that we feel passionate about it – while still fuelling the passion to keep us going.
If you have ever tried this before, you’ll know that maintaining the balance between two polarities is actually a lot harder than going into an extreme. The true heroes are those who manage to maintain the balance (although they rarely get credit for it).
We have a lot of work still ahead of us, and a long way to go until full diversity and gender equality. Let’s reach it with passion, dedication and common sense, not with blind overzeal.
I feel honoured to be part of the LEAD Network Europe Marketing Committee, because from what I’ve seen they actively work towards finding this balance.