School of Thought

Oh, do we have thoughts

Are Men On The Sidelines of Cultural Change?

No matter how great a conference’s subject-matter, my first instinct is to ask “what’s missing?”

Yesterday’s Culture Summit SF was no different. The sold-out show gathered at The Village to hear the latest thinking on corporate culture and purpose. Most attendees worked for companies with fewer than 100 employees. Most were HR professionals.

Great insights were shared. Brain cells were stretched. Connections made.

But what was missing? Men.

Roughly 80% of the audience were women. Perhaps not surprising given HR managers are often female (although more CHROs tend to skew white male). But I’ve observed that women’s championing of purpose-led business goes beyond HR. The DO Lectures 2015 gathering in Campovida, CA—an inspirational event focusing on how people can “DO” more of what matters—attracted mostly women. One of the Bay Area’s leading co-working spaces for social and cultural change, Impact Hub Oakland, has three purpose-driven women at the helm.

So, why aren’t more men joining the culture conversation? Is this part of the problem? In talking with Tatyana Mamut, VP of UX & Design at Salesforce, she believes that the CEO and senior leadership define corporate culture. Without their buy-in you have no culture. But in the male-dominated C-Suite, conversations are often driven by metrics and tangibles. Emotion, feelings and beliefs are earmarked for advertising, not business policy.

Peter “Scotch” Scocimara, Sr. Director at Google, stressed that a key ingredient for a successful culture is being human. “A critical culture element comes about by managers talking about a deep personal and emotional experience.”

In speaking with people at the Culture Summit, the majority voiced a passion for purpose, bold visions for where their organizations could evolve, and a desire to mobilize change.

But if culture is understood through feelings and emotive expression, then businesses need to become more human. Entrenched hard practices must include a softer skillset, and not just within HR. It starts at the top.

Diversity and inclusion have never looked more important.