630022640 include Conference Production, Webinars, Sales, Marketing and the

630022640

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“Change
is an ongoing and never-ending process of organizational life” (Van de Ven and
Sun, 2011). Thus modern organisations must respond quickly to the challenges being
faced in an ever-globalising economy to maintain a competitive edge. Having
gained experience in a business environment whilst interning at Marcus Evans
(ME), I will strive to discuss the change that I want to implement, alongside
the resources I will utilise and the challenges that will be faced.

 

Having worked at ME, I learnt of the numerous divisions that exist within
this global company, with offices in Europe, Asia and North/South America. Teams
based in the London office include Conference Production, Webinars, Sales,
Marketing and the Sports division (THG), all located on the same floor. The
male to female ratios in THG struck me; there are 99% males in the office with around 25 men and few women; it was described as the
‘testosterone room’. Therefore the change I want to make is to change the perception that the Sport’s
division is the men’s domain and that they will perform better than women. It is important to note that within
the company there are no female CEOs and only one female Marketing Head; this
is not an anomaly for ME. A Mckinsey survey found that in only 8% of the
biggest companies did women account for more than a quarter of top jobs (Women
Matter, 2012).

 

Social identities refer to an individual’s sense of
self that is defined by a group. Social identities make group cohesion
possible, enabling us to reach unanimity on what matters to ‘us’ (Reicher,
Haslam and Platow, 2007). At ME, I
believe there will be an umbrella for which social identity groups will fall
under. Firstly are the women that will be pushing to change this perception in
the Sports division. The second group ought be everyone within the
organisation; it is important to include men as creating an ‘us’ for the women,
and ‘them’ for the men can alienate them. If an organisation promotes and
supports a distinct ‘leadership cadre’ (in this case, women), it can have a
beneficial impact on the shared identity however a possible negative impact on
other groups (Bolden, Gosling, Adarves-Yorno, Burgoyne, 2008). Men also need to
empower women; this means inviting them to participate in all the initiatives
and schemes (discussed later). This guiding coalition (Kotter, 2017) of men and
women allows the social identity groups to work together towards changing this
perception in THG.

 

To make this change, I must
ensure a Management commitment (Women Matter, 2012). ME’s value of being proactive by
‘actively encouraging people to see things and do things differently’ ensures
that this change follows the company values. A potential method includes
presentations to senior leaders, hiring agents and CEOs to show why this change
will benefit the company. It is essential to persuade these figures at the top,
as I will be able to use them as leading change agents allowing the message to
funnel down. Studies have shown that women make better decisions than men
(ScienceDaily, 2013) because women are more likely to take the cooperative
approach to decision- making creating better company performances. It is known
that businesses viewed as male dominated such as THG Sports tend to attract
less women. I believe that by creating a quota for women in the sports division,
it will make the problem concrete (Pascale and Sternin, 2005).

 

To gain
support from Management and Senior Leaders, it involves persuading them that this
is the right thing to do. Petty and Cacioppo’s Elaboration Likelihood Model of
persuasion (ELM) (Sparks and Areni, 2007) suggests two routes to persuasion.

The central route involves considerate deliberation about the message,
therefore I must ensure that the argument is well constructed about the
benefits of having women. The second route, peripheral, occurs when participants
decide if they agree with the message based on peripheral cues; these are unrelated
to the message of the stimulus, such as credibility or attractiveness of the
sources of the message.  Consequently the
individuals giving presentations must be credible for example strong female
leaders from other companies. If this group of people are successfully
persuaded, it motivates them to help socially influence the people below.

Leading
change agents can subsequently present to THG and other divisions, informing
them of what will follow, by social influence. Kelman’s (1958) social influence
theory involves compliance and identification, both of which occur
when an individual consents to influence in the hope of receiving a positive
reaction from, or maintaining a relationship with, another individual/group. The
result is influence due to conformity, not because the content is agreed upon.

Contrastingly, internalisation is
when the influence is accepted because the ideas correspond to the individuals’
value system, thus are truly changing their perception of women being able to
work in THG, rather than conforming. Within this social influence, social
identity is important because the shared sense of ‘us’ lies at the heart of
effective leadership (Haslam et al., 2013); the senior leaders are significant
vehicles to drive this.

The creation
of women’s development programs (Women Matter, 2012) and strategic initiatives (Kotter,
2017) (including quotas, workshops and presentations) will aid in changing the
perception that men are better at working in THG. By having a ‘Women in
Business’ Committee, it enhances the social identity of the women as they have
the same interests for the better of the group. Mckinsey research shows that women
often turn down career advancements due to family commitments outside work alongside
risk aversion to positions that demand new skills, because they doubt
themselves. Thus, changing their perceptions of themselves will involve
removing these mental barriers (Kotter, 2017) and will be enriched through
development programs. The initiatives must make the working environment more
inclusive for women, for example where they would leave work to take care of a
child, ME could provide subsidised support for them.

At an individual level, I
have a variety of internal resources. As seen from my PDP (Sondhi, 2018, p.3),
playing tennis has made me motivated, resilient and passionate. Nicolaou et al (2007) find that
resilient people can be proved to be more ready to accept and apply change;
resilience demonstrates positive correlations with attitudes to change and
overall team performance in a change management situation. With this, alongside
my confident and enthusiastic personality, I will hopefully be a successful
change agent. I have the desire to be a strong businesswoman alongside a good
mother to my future children (Sondhi, 2018, p.5), therefore the change I want
to make is directly in line with the social identity groups that I will become
part of. I see myself as part of the group that will facilitate the change in
THG because I value the importance of it: I aspire to work in sports and also
want to reach a senior leadership position. As this social identity becomes
salient, myself, alongside others in the group, will internalise the required
group characteristics fuelling our group commitment
and involvement efforts (Adarves-Yorno, Postmes and Alexander Haslam, 2006).

 

Incorporating
Theory U (Scharmer, 2010) will provide another set of tools with which I can
make changes. Although I am still working on the inner place from where I
operate as Theory U requires, I have been able to get to know myself better
through my PDP; the first commandment of leadership, ‘know thyself’ (Dhiman,
2017), alongside realising my ‘ideal self (Thompson, 2009) allows for better
relationships with others creating more success, whilst being the best version
of me. Scharmer’s notion of ‘missing collective leadership’ links to
participatory leadership (The Art of Participatory Leadership Workbook, 2013).

Part of being a change agent entails enabling participatory leadership. By
using the four basic practices, I will make a strong contribution by being
present, participating through active listening, contributing to hosting
conversations, such as Open Space Technology (discussed later), whilst
co-creating with others in the Women’s Committee.

To fuel the change, external resources will be
indispensable. Having worked closely with the Head of Webinars, Head of Global
Marketing and Head of THG Marketing, I will be able to use these leading
figures as change agents. Furthermore, using managers as agents of social
change (Schneider et al., 2004) will mean encouraging them to engage in
socially responsible behaviour (decisions
and actions made with the primary purpose of enhancing social welfare). Here, it involves increasing the number of women
working within THG.

Managers and leading figures in
companies are seen as moral actors according to Schneider et al., thus being a change agent will
involve them exerting a degree of control to transform relations, relating to social
influence. Utilising these key figures means using their leadership as a social identity management tool
to mobilise and direct the followers’ energies  (Steffens
et al., 2014). Their four-dimensional model
should be used, allowing the senior figures to ensure that social identity
groups are made visible to outsiders whilst working towards a shared goal. At a
group level, I must ensure that I create a sense of us; during field-work we
found that our most valuable resource was the group co-operation; this is
essential to transfer into my new change project.

 

Moreover, Open Space Technology is a first-rate meeting system for any
situation in which there is a real issue of concern. I believe that using this
resource will provide a forum by which male and female employees can ‘catalyse
effective working conversations’ surrounding the various issues that concern
them (The Art of Participatory
Leadership Workbook, 2013, p41).

Monetary investment will also be required to facilitate these working conversations
alongside advancing the women’s development initiatives.

 

Due to the extent of the
change, there will be a mountain of challenges that could be faced along the
way. Beginning with internal challenges, as someone who has spent little time
in the workplace, I have lack of knowledge about the ‘ins and outs’.

Furthermore, I am not in a hiring position, subsequently must use my internal
and external resources to persuade people of the change. This involves swimming
upstream (Van de Ven and Sun, 2011)  against the resistance as this issue is possibly
not something that concerns others; they may believe that things are running
smoothly as they are. It is evident that I stress under pressure (Sondhi, 2018,
p.3), therefore copious amounts of pressure could create high levels of
anxiety. This will not be conducive to the transforming environment. Moreover, tempered
radicalism has the potential to arise due to tension between the status quo (keeping
the high number of males in THG) and alternatives (introducing more women). Meyerson
and Sculley (1995) discuss the notion that women have often become discouraged
by feelings of deceit as they try to fit into this dominant culture, in this situation
trying to fit into a male dominated division. Thus myself or other women could flee
the institution because we are exhausted of being undervalued and secluded.

 

External challenges include senior leaders and managers not being
persuaded by the central and peripheral cues (ELM). For the change to take place
it must start from here; if they do not agree with the change there could be
lack of funding and social
influence. Thus if the social identity groups do not become salient,
this can prove problematic for the change project’s success (Haslam et al.,
2013).

 

Breakdowns could occur whilst implementing this change; breakdowns are
perceived incongruities between the change process we observe in an organization
and our mental idea of how it should develop (Van de Ven and Sun, 2011). Often, people do not react positively towards change
because the status quo is preferred. The Chaordic Path allows us to see that
the innovation emergent practice stems away from the known order towards this
idea of ‘chaos’ or ’emergence’. Although I believe that having more women in
THG will enhance the division, employees may perceive the change as
destructive, meeting it with resistance.

Various motives for resistance exist; people may think that it is not
necessary to have more women in THG is earning enough money presently. Some may
believe that women are in fact inferior at working in the Sports division or in
senior leadership, thus will try and resist. Collinson argues that
“resistance by persistance” can be effective if they refuse to take part in the
proposed change proposed (Knights, Nord and Jermier, 1994). Fleming and Spicer (2003) claim that
“disidentification” with organisational values enables workers to distance
themselves. They work at a ‘cynical distance’, however this doesn’t
fundamentally challenge working practices. People could promote unofficial
group norms that subvert the change process I am implementing. Moreover, if
people don’t react positively to change anyway, it could be particularly worse if the change is coming from
someone who is not “one of us”. When instigating, I will not be well known
within the organisation, thus could be met with more resistance due to being an
‘out-group’.

 

In conclusion, we have been able to
understand the change project that I desire to implement alongside the resources
that will be used and the challenges that will be faced in the process. Gender
gaps are a very current topical issue facing not only organisations but
society; starting to increase the number of women in THG will create beneficial
spill-over effects into other divisions alongside maximising chances of more
women rising into senior positions. Having more women in THG will provide
innovative ways of working with clients, aligned with ME’s vision. For me, the
change will impact me personally by aiding in shaping my career path and social
identity groups that I will work with. Although the propositioned change is a
small step, as Armstrong (1969) proclaimed, I believe it will be  “one small step for women, one giant leap
for womenkind” (Launius, 2018).