At work I can engage in mediation/facilitation initiatives as long as they do not create a conflict of interest, I take the time for them out of my vacation and I’m not paid to participate. As you may suspect, I don’t do many. But I was called up on one that involved restoring trust. After some analysis, it became obvious to everyone that there was a single solution that would work very, very well. The problem is that it involved sacrifice and none of the things it would take were “required” by law or by ethics codes. Now they are off to find half measures.

But it got me thinking.

Image resultPresident Hinckley was very clear with Kathy Pullins when she ran the BYU Women’s Conference that he felt the Church had an overwhelming need for more leadership from the women in the Church. Echoes of that show up over and over again.

Recently, in focus groups, frustration was expressed over the fact that to use female leaders involves a great deal of sacrifice for them and that the number available in Utah to basically work full time for the Church without pay is small. The question is how to solve the problem.

Not to mention, there are a number of other gender related problems vis a vis women in leadership. Everyone knows that organizations with more gender balance in the leadership out perform those that do not have it.  Governance boards with more women on them do better than those without. Yet many companies have trouble implementing the necessary changes.*

I’ve been listening to proposals for solutions.

Image resultOrdain Women has suggested that we just ordain women. As many have noted, ordaining African-American men has not resulted in a significant presence of them in the upper level of the leadership of the Church. Many have expressed concern that ordained women would have no more presence at the higher levels – especially with the other issues.

Some have suggested telecommuting and using people from outside Utah by using that method. If any of you have telecommuted full time in a collegiality heavy environment you can see the limitations in that approach.

Image resultOthers have suggested that all who receive stipends from the LDS Church should receive the same stipends in amounts that are disclosed (which they did when stipends were announced, as to the present policy all that we hear is rumor) and that stipends should be extended to women in leadership positions.

Equality of support would translate into direct public perceptions (we are, alas, a society that values people based on what they are paid compared to others in a hierarchy) and would reflect valuing women the same as we do men. It would also free up women from a wider socio-economic background to serve.

It also fits a general trend and complaint about equality of funding for young women and young men and other related issues about where the money flows in the church and how.

As to downsides – our commenters will pretty much list all of those as to stipends and related issues.

Image resultAnother solution is to wait for something to evolve and just keep talking about the need. That hasn’t made much progress in the last twenty-thirty years but maybe it will work in the next twenty to thirty. Sometimes waiting is the answer though.

Still, so many things just work out if you just wait.  Think of the “we will sell no wine before its time” advertising campaign.  And “just wait” is easy to ask of someone else if it doesn’t cause you any stress or pain (See my first paragraph).

It is the standard half measure — though it is sometimes the right one.

Which leads to my questions.

  • What approach do you see for increasing the amount of leadership we obtain from women in the Church? Feel free to criticize the examples above (I have felt free to criticize them).
  • What would you suggest? I don’t have the answers but I’m hoping those who comment here might have better questions or better ideas.

*For a look at the same issues in Fortune 500 companies, see this article:  “Why Corporate Boards are still an Old Boy’s Club.”