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October 15, 2006

Including the Whole Self

"Women came into the business as gatecrashers, but now its time for our own party. Lets not play the game, lets change it!"

Thats from Naked Truth - a book by Margaret Heffernan on business women and corporate reality.

I'm not as enticed by the whole "women" thing, as much as I am enticed by her approach towards "inclusiveness in a corporate culture"

Here in her article "Wise up", she makes an excellent point when she says that corporates only value skills like competitiveness, aggressiveness, dominance - all of which are traditionaly male dominated traits. So a woman, or even a man for that matter, who does not display these traits is quick to be passed up for that promotion or that plum assignment.

And in our struggle to be "that" person, what we are effectively doing is excluding our "whole self" from being taken to work. The doting father, the concerned mother, the emotional wife, are all left back at home because there is no space for them at work.

As Margeret says, the division of labour between work and home, also ended up dividing our intelligence, and we all ended up working with half our potential.

As Firms begin to embrace diversity, I think a key question will also be - how do we become more inclusive towards the "whole self" of the individual?

Structurally, there are many ways of doing this - flexi working arrangements, not scheduling meetings / calls after particular hours, work from home options, - basically allowing him to control his space. I guess this is what Best Buy was trying to do in their workforce experiment.

But i think this is just the tip of the iceberg. Real change is much more deep, and for that to happen, an organization has to truly embrace diversity in all kinds of abilities, skills and knowledge and know how to leverage the entire self and not just the partial self.


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