Posted by: malstott | October 17, 2012

Hoorah for Men…who don’t need binders

Last night during the presidential debate Governor Romney said that he put together a binder of women candidates for his state cabinet and then proudly used it to fill up his cabinet to the point where he had a higher percentage of women in leadership positions than any other state did at the time. I don’t want to talk about the veracity of that story. Let others fight out the political implications. Here is my beef: too many men in power don’t have strong enough working relationships with women to have a short list already compiled. And worse, too many men don’t have women to confer with about whom should be added to the list. Men don’t need binders, they need women in their networks.

Let me change my tone.  I celebrate the men who know that the strongest team will be diverse and therefore will seek out differences in gender, ethnicity and personality to create a team that is synergistic. Hoorah for the men who have women friends, colleagues, board members and subordinates who challenge them with different ways of looking at things. Three cheers for men who work for women without hesitation and who fully support diverse styles of leadership.

Perhaps it goes without saying but I will say it so that it is clear to all that I believe that women need to do the same. We need to embrace a diverse circle of friends, colleagues and advisors in order to be fully prepared when we are pulling a team together or recommending for a job. This isn’t a natural act for women either. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together.

So, men and women, let’s throw away our binders and get our networking engines going. Purposely develop a broad array of connections so that the input you have for work and for life is as full and diverse as possible. It makes us better individuals. It builds stronger companies and stronger countries.

Audre Lorde
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