business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

There was an Eye-Opening story in the Washington Post over the weekend about how the state of Nevada has become “the nation’s first majority-female state legislature,” which has meant that “the male old guard has been shaken up by the perspectives of female lawmakers. Bills prioritizing women’s health and safety have soared to the top of the agenda. Mounting reports of sexual harassment have led one male lawmaker to resign. And policy debates long dominated by men, including prison reform and gun safety, are yielding to female voices.”

The story says that “the female majority is having a huge effect: More than 17 pending bills deal with sexual assault, sex trafficking and sexual misconduct, with some measures aimed at making it easier to prosecute offenders. Bills to ban child marriage and examine the causes of maternal mortality are also on the docket.” And one longtime legislator - a woman, Teresa Benitez-Thompson, now the Assembly Majority Leader, says confidently that before now, “"None of these bills would have seen the light of day.”

This is not a story about politics. Not really.

For the record, it isn’t just Democrats. GOP Assemblywoman Jill Tolles tells the Post that Republican women “share a lot of common ground and lived experiences with Democratic women.”

The Post notes that “no other legislature has achieved that milestone in U.S. history. Only Colorado comes close, with women constituting 47 percent of its legislators. In Congress, just one in four lawmakers is a woman.”

But the Eye-Opening point, I think, has less to do with politics and more to do with how institutions change when perspectives change … and how people who have defended the old way of doing things have to be prepared for the fact that no matter where they work, to quote the old Sam Cooke song, “A change is gonna come.”

This applies to leaders of organizations that have not embraced institutional diversity as a way of becoming more relevant to customers. It applies to organizations that have not changed the way they do business to adjust for a population that is more and more becoming dominated by women - strong women with skills and convictions.

“There’s change in this building that is just this amazing story of transformation,” Assemblywoman Heidi Swank tells the Post, “and it really highlights the importance of the female majority being not just here, but finally being heard.”

And leading. That’s the Eye-Opener.
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