Saturday saw a global celebration of ‘International Women’s Day‘. Social media feeds were jammed with reference to the achievements of amazing women, from household names to the women we work and live with every day.

This celebration seems to have grown in size and profile over the last few years and articles bemoaning the lack of female representation have become an increasingly regular sight in blogs, in business magazines and in the national press. We are beginning to see more female role models come to the fore in business and celebrate women’s success more frequently.

I don’t quite think we’ve embraced ‘The Age of the Feminine’ just yet, but we’re closer than we’ve been for many years.

This is a positive thing. Not only because women are entitled to equal opportunities in business (as well as elsewhere in life) but also because everyone stands to benefit from a more feminine approach to business. It’s been said many times that the financial crisis wouldn’t have happened if there were more women in power. I don’t know how accurate that assertion is, but I understand where it comes from.

We discussed the differences in the ways that men and women network in great depth in a recent edition of The Global Networking Show. One of the points I regularly make in this debate is that the relative strengths and weaknesses are not so much in gender but in what I would call masculine and feminine traits.

The masculine approach tends to be more transactional, more individual and more focused on short-term gain and power. The feminine approach is somewhat different.

I was at a conference in Vancouver in December when Sean Weafer gave a rousing closing talk. During his speech, Sean talked about the coming of the ‘Age of the Feminine’, after 10,000 years of the masculine.

Sean told us that “the values of the age of the masculine allowed us to shape civilisation. These were the things that helped us to dominate the planet.”

But then came a stark warning.

“What we have in our grasp, if we were to maintain that, with the values of those 10,000 years we would destroy ourselves and our planet in decades.”

In place of this threat of impending doom, Sean extolled the virtues and values of the Feminine. Those values are:

  • Co-operation
  • Collaboration
  • Co-creation
  • Community.

Sean talked about the focus on the economy and numbers at the expense of society, community and the family. A more feminine approach to business and to the problems of the world would change that.

The feminine values that Sean extolls are at the heart of networking and lay the foundation for successful businesses. We have more small and medium sized businesses than ever before and they are able to thrive when they embrace these values.

A dog-eat-dog masculine business culture would see smaller businesses swallowed up in no time yet so many learn to prosper through collaboration, joint-ventures and by forming communities that provide support, advice and referrals.

The same is true for larger companies and for the people they employ. In the modern world, individuals succeed when they build a support network around them, get mentors and are also prepared to give back. Meanwhile, the big beasts of business are having their attention turned to how they can ‘give back’ to their community, to their employees and to the disadvantaged while, commercially, we are seeing more examples of coopetition than ever before.

Just as with the fight for women’s equality, we’re not there yet and there is still a long way to go, particularly in some industries and some regions. However there are positive signs that business is starting to recognise the power of a more collaborative and supportive culture and its prevalence will only increase as we witness more success.

I don’t quite think we’ve embraced ‘The Age of the Feminine’ just yet, but we’re closer than we’ve been for many years.

AndyLopata-sqAuthor Bio:

Labelled ‘Mr Network’ by The Sun, Andy Lopata was called one of Europe’s leading business networking strategists by the Financial Times. Andy is the author of three books on networking, as well as a blogger for The Huffington Post and NatWest Business Sense. Andy speaks internationally and has worked with companies from one-man bands to organisations such as Deloitte, Merrill Lynch and Mastercard to help them realise the full potential from their networking. He is also a Fellow and former vice-president of the Professional Speaking Association.

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