Do you think that men are making things difficult for women?
Laura Liswood, Diversity Manager at Goldman Sachs © Laura Liswood
No, I don't think they do that consciously. Like any human being, men feel most comfortable among themselves. It would help a lot if more men were conscious of this dynamic. It is interesting that men who have daughters think differently. They want their daughters to succeed and to be encouraged, and they often transfer this attitude into their relationships at the workplace as well.
And in what ways might women be holding themselves back?
What we need above all is a better sense of humor and a little more resilience. We are too frightened of failure or of being judged by others. I look forward to the day when there will be a female US President, a woman who stands up and says: "I have a vision and I shall lead this country!" I often ask myself what it will take to make that happen.
And? What do you think?
No doubt a large number of women in leadership roles. A woman at the top must become something far more natural, far more usual. One example: The first female President of Iceland, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, held that role for 16 years. After around eight years, children in Iceland thought that only women could be president.
What do you think of quotas for women?
I would be in favor if I didn't know that the majority of the population is against it. That is tough. We need to wait for a time when the countries that went down that path – for instance Norway with a quota for supervisory boards – present results that convince us all.
Why are we as a society missing out, if we don't do more to help women get ahead?
First of all – and that is the strongest argument – how can a society maintain that it uses its full potential when half of the population is not involved? We need new ways, new thought processes to solve the problems. A company needs creative ideas, a new perspective. And then there is also the fact that where women are discriminated against, other groups usually are too. What we need above all is secure jobs open to all.
Laura Liswood is Diversity Manager at Goldman Sachs. She also founded the "Council of Women World Leaders", which counts Angela Merkel among its members. Laura Liswood has documented her experiences of women in leadership roles in a book entitled "The Loudest Duck."