Collaborative leadership, naturalize diversity

12 2019 September
INCAE Executive Education

The culture of collaboration is key, it is necessary to seek a balance in the participation of men and women in decision-making positions in companies and institutions. That integration results in better accounts. It is not only a question of ethics, but also an income statement. Men and women working together will push towards higher global economic growth. 

Gender equality challenges can be reduced through collaborative leadership. If the current labor gap closes, even by only a quarter, it would add more than US $ 5,35 trillion to global GDP. 

"The labor inclusion of women is not a matter of social justice, but of efficiency", comments Guillermo Cardoza, professor at INCAE Business School.

“We need to have people in the projects who have a diversity of thought, of ways of behaving to understand the environment and have the best solutions. Diversity generates better financial returns, a better environment and talent retention, ”explains Alexandra Kissling, director of Voces Vitales Costa Rica.

But it is about collaborating, not confronting, warns Dr. Camelia Ilie-Cardoza, INCAE's Dean of Executive Education. “Instead of changing behaviors through policies that enforce equality, our purpose is to change the design to generate collaborative environments, where men and women can exploit their full potential ”, he assures. 

He adds that it is time to move from measurement to action. "With a radical change" of perspective. For Ilie, forced policies run the risk of provoking more confrontation than inclusion, something that is already being observed. 

“I attended several work groups in the US in the last semester, where they were looking at how the imposition of policies that violate unconscious behavior and beliefs produce a reaction. We are designed to respond to threats in the environment ”, Ilie explains, she is also Chair of the Center for Collaborative and Women's Leadership, of INCAE.

So the subconscious identifies tax equality policies as a threat. "What we have to do is design environments that are naturally open to diversity", holds Ilie.

The dean exemplifies this in the new recruiting policies of the Boston Symphony, which had very few female musicians and at some point they decided to try out behind a curtain. 

“The person who was playing could not be seen, it was only heard. Only with this measure, the number of women members of the symphony grew significantly. It is necessary to help the unconscious prejudice that I have as a human being, not to play against us ”, he maintains.

These assertions are supported by data. A recent study by the International Labor Organization (ILO) shows that gender diversity in managerial positions contributes to improving business performance. The document indicates that companies with an equal employment opportunity policy are 26% more likely to achieve better business results than those without it.

In addition, 57% of the companies surveyed around the world agree that initiatives on gender diversity improve their business results, although more than 78% of the companies participating in the survey are men, and it is only women, in general. in the case of small businesses. Research shows that the higher the level of the position in a company, the less likely it is that a woman will fill it.

(Excerpt from the article "Collaborative leadership, key to development", published by in the September edition of Strategy & Business")


Subscribe to our blog