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I’ve been working with a leadership team for one of the largest organisations in the world. This group is spread across the Americas and Europe, and the people are smart and switched on. I’m helping them build a leadership mindset and I wanted to share a recent win from one of the team that really inspired me, in part because of its broader application.

This leader needed to hire an additional 700 people to his team, in roles that required technical and specialised skills. The hiring is now complete and he was so happy to report that 50% of the new people are women, a big feat considering how women are still largely locked out of STEM roles.

At the heart of his success was his mindset. He was fully committed to gender parity, not as a nice to have, but as a this we will have, and his actions lined up with that.

Some of the things he did:

  • Push recruitment to ensure half of applicants were women
  • 50% of everyone who got to interview stage were women
  • Proactively seeking out women in his organisation to apply. Many did not think they were suitably qualified (ie met 90% of the selection criteria!), but they were encouraged and supported to apply
  • Balance the interview panel so at least 40 % (2 out of 5) were women

 So you can see that the goal wasn’t wishful thinking. It was actioned very specifically and strategically, driven by his mindset and belief. He is justifiably pleased at the diversity and strength this team gives him, and the message it sends about the organisation as an employer, and him as a leader.

At the heart of this success was his uncompromising mindset that they would have 50% women, or as close as possible. This mindset wasn’t ‘let’s go for it, and see what happens’, or ‘wouldn’t it be great if we had lots of women…” It was ‘we will do what it takes to make this happen’.

Nothing was left to chance. Every aspect of the hiring process was thought through and enabled for women to apply and succeed.

Too often in our organisations or lives we settle for what’s normal, or reasonable. We have aspirations and ideals, but we compromise this because of unexamined limiting mindsets running the show.

These mindsets settle for what’s reasonable. Instead, power lies with an authentic confrontation to what it really takes to make something important happen. The old ways have huge pull – because of legacy, but also because it’s comfortable and it’s what we know. However, a new world beckons. We must become a 21st Century leader who expands the space of possibility for others.

This is what we really need right now.

Don’t settle for what is normal or acceptable in the old paradigm. Upgrade your mindset so you can upgrade the organisations we work in and the societies we live in.