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"Women in business: corporate culture or quotas?"

I don’t like the word “inclusion”, especially when applied to the gender issue. It always implies indulgence, you feel the awkwardness of the gesture: here, we made some indulgence, appointed a WOMAN to the board. A sort of declaration: we are all right with gender equality. Statistics are pumped up, grades are mixed …

In the context of such a corporate culture – I call it patriarchal – there will never be a shift in organizational consciousness that makes gender equality the norm of modern life. Not a question, not a problem, but a norm that has already become entrenched, for example, among the millennial generation. They absolutely understand why women are in management. Women are half the neural cells of the planet in the context of the “demographic collapse” that has long been predicted.

Perhaps my thesis that women have nothing to do in a patriarchal corporate world will not be popular. But I am sure that we women definitely do not need to knock on these doors, we do not need to try to break through the glass ceilings there. You need to run from these companies. These are the dinosaurs that will disappear because innovation does not take root here. Let me remind you that the average American company remains in the S&P 500 index for only 15 years. And if you think about where to apply your talent in our short life, you definitely need to pay attention to the corporate culture, which is the future.

In such a corporate culture there is no gender issue, there is a question of talent, professionalism, responsibility. One of the business books that I read with pleasure this year is No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention (in Russian it was published under the title No Rules: The Unique Culture of Netflix), where Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings together with a specialist in cross-cultural management from INSEAD, he formulated the principles necessary for building an innovative and flexible corporate culture.

What is characteristic of such a culture? First of all, it is a high concentration of talents (talent density), the cultivation of freedom and responsibility. That is the exact opposite of patriarchy. Freedom, not control, helps people make better decisions, achieve greater results. At Netflix, for example, managers don’t count vacation days. Behind this little symbol of a lack of patriarchal control lies a conscious shared goal of having fewer rules for employees to encourage creativity and efficiency.

In such a culture, a woman with a child does not need to explain to her colleagues that everything is fine with her, she copes with the tasks. Self-responsibility is implied. And here there is indeed gender equality, and at every level: 48% of senior management are women. I think no stretch.

This corporate culture promotes innovation and leads to continued corporate success. I have experienced this in practice. For almost five years now, I have been a senior independent director at PJSC Polyus and I can say with confidence that when a company has progressive-minded management, the right culture is created: there is no discrimination based on either gender or age. Meritocracy is at the core of Polyus’s corporate culture, and all processes, from recruitment to various talent pool and talent development programs, are permeated with this principle. If you are effective in your current position, you want and can develop, the company has created all the conditions for the maximum use of your competencies and potential, regardless of gender or anything else, then the talent and contribution that you make, and the desire to do it, are valued.

We have enough women in leadership positions both in the management company and in the regions. But due to the specifics of the industry, of course, there are more men in it. We are actively working with the international association Women in Mining, we have submitted 11 applications in the Talented Woman in the Mining Industry nomination. Moreover, among the contenders from Polyus, there are not only representatives of such traditional areas for women’s careers as HR and finance, but also women who have achieved success in production positions.

So the issue of equality, including women’s, is a good indicator of the modernity of corporate culture. For companies that are the future, any equality is the norm, not an empty set of numbers in the report.

This article was published on the Forbes Council business community platform

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