The bicultural way of thinking

You won’t create a better performing company simply because you succeeded in having more women working alongside men.

Nov 7, 2018
David Veenhuys

It’s a well know fact, women represent the largest business opportunity in the world and control the vast majority of consumer spending.

But women buy differently from men. Most companies don’t really understand this, because most of them are managed by men. As a result, a vast majority of women are deeply dissatisfied by the way these companies market and advertise their products to them. Companies therefore need to adapt their marketing efforts to better serve their female clientele.

It would be foolish to treat such a group of consumers without the respect they deserve, especially given the fact that their income and purchasing power will only continue to grow. Today more women than men in Switzerland have access to Hautes Ecoles/Hochschulen and more women than men will start entering the active population in an age of diminishing demographics.

Designing and marketing products that focus primarily on needs of women yield the largely unexpected benefit of creating better products and better marketing efforts that also attract more male consumers according to an excellent book “Marketing to Women” by Marti Barletta.

However, the way that women buy products can be subtle and difficult to understand for men. Making a visible effort to do so but getting it wrong (and there are about a half dozen traps male marketers can fall into) can unleash such a ferociously negative response from female consumers that companies need to integrate more women at all levels of the company, creating a broad balance, to become effective.

The corporate culture in most companies is mostly a masculine one, dominated by male values and beliefs. Most men therefore feel naturally at ease in such a world. As a result, they perceive women, who, naturally, don’t feel at ease in such an environment as lacking what it takes to succeed in the company.

The tendency is then to rush in, for example, with training sessions to teach women how to adapt. This is a sure way of getting it entirely wrong from the very beginning. There is nothing wrong with women, just as much as there is nothing wrong with men. It is the company that has to adapt to a changing world, not the women.

A company which manages to successfully transform itself from a (male) monocultural environment to a bicultural environment that understands and respects the values and beliefs of both women and men will create a richer and more dynamic environment.

This bicultural way of thinking, as a state of mind, can express itself in all the activities the company undertakes: research & development and product innovation, production, selling, pricing, advertising, staffing and subsequently all the various HR practices. The result will probably be a more open, less egocentric and individualistic organization, more willing to admit mistakes, more ethical and certainly far more consumer oriented than before.

You won’t create a better performing company simply because you succeeded in having more women working alongside men.

You will build a better company because you succeeded in integrating and balancing male and female values in all aspects and activities of the company, thus creating a more dynamic and diverse environment, closer to its markets, where new and innovative ideas can more readily flourish.

This article is an extract of ” The Bicultural Company

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