What is a dolphin pledge?
In animal kingdom, there are select species of animals that always move in groups or packs. The most popular species that has been quoted are the wolves — Wolves move in packs as a strategy to bring down large/stronger preys and also to defend their territory.
Dolphins also move in groups. Dolphins are known to exhibit behaviors that are co-operative, friendly, playful and up-lifting. It is established through research that two male dolphins can stay together as friends for decades. The larger groups make alliances with other larger groups, thus expanding their domination through friendship not just to defend themselves but also to compete effectively. A proven and well established survival and domination strategy.
Shift the paradigm to corporate world, where careers get built through strong connections and networking. You have a VP of engineering coming into your organization. He came in because the CTO and he worked together earlier and delivered an exceptional track-record. The VP, in around 3–6 months, as you will see, will fulfill all open positions with people that had worked with him earlier in his career. All the vantage ones to begin with. Whether those are the most qualified for the job is best left unsaid for the purpose of this writing.
And that is how men rise and shine in their careers. The comrade mentality is glaring to see — help, nurture, navigate together in areas in and beyond work too. From the share market all the way till the restroom. Some of the best friendships are observed among groups of “Dolphin men” in the corporate world. Men exhibit strong herd mentalities for safeguarding of their territory and also as a survival strategy.
Let us shift the paradigm again. Women leaders in corporate world. Do women move in packs? Do we pull in other women into their portfolio positions? Do we nurture, coach, nourish and encourage fellow women the way men do? Do men take women along, as a conscious choice?
Probably if they did, we would not be staring at reported statistics where women represent just 30% in top leadership roles (Vice president and above). From 2015 to 2019, overall representation of women at leadership and management roles in corporate workplace grew just by 3%. This definitely does not look like significant progress by any measure. Clearly what is being done is not enough .
We, the working women, have strongly under-rated the power of moving in packs. Either we were not taught of its importance or we have missed the strategy by keeping out of it unknowingly. Yet we continue to feel and remain lonely in our career lives, looking at other women as competitors and not as wonderful allies.
Big mistake. Certain animal instincts are not to be lost, ladies. As we progress, as we climb career mazes, let us keep building our own lovely & loyal team mates. And making sure we all stay committed by taking care of each other, with a vengeance.
We need to build our loyal entourage. Connect with other aspiring women and support each other, rather than looking at them as competition. Give them wings as well all fly together.
And so, I now start the chain. A chain of pledge to establish equal domination by women in all fields of work by doing a very simple and natural human act. Forming packs of female herds together which we will navigate career mazes. This does not mean doing “lean in” conferences and shoulders to cry. No. I mean real action. Action that propels the current female representation on a SpaceX rocket to achieving the 50% benchmark.
AND HERE IS MY DOLPHIN PLEDGE
We, the women, shall move in packs. Every time I have an open opportunity in my portfolio, in my organization, in my known circles and for every known challenging/leadership role, I will connect that opportunity first to a female that I know. I would not worry about being partial, or dissect into pieces if the other person is the most qualified or not. If the female is capable and shows a hunger for growth and committed, then I would make an earnest attempt to uplift the women for that role.
And to be able to do this, I will take it upon myself as the most important calling of my life to form meaningful relations with my female colleagues to understand, nurture and work with them like dolphins do.
Because, without this, I would not touch the 50% mark in my lifetime. That is my Dolphin pledge. It is your turn to take pl(un)edge.