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Five minutes with Zoe Kinias

Zoe Kinias, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour, INSEAD, and Academic Director, INSEAD’s Gender Initiative

Do you find your research into resilience and diversity complements your teaching?

“Yes, of course. My research and teaching sometimes complement each other in obvious ways, like when I am teaching my sessions on social identities, where we work to improve participants’ own resiliency against challenges related to diversity issues, and enable others’ resiliency.

“The research also sometimes complements in more subtle ways, as when I teach research methods, I strive to ensure that everyone – even those who for various reasons might feel more threatened by the research endeavour – feels empowered and respected.”

Why do you care so much about the inclusion of diverse case protagonists in business education?

“I believe those who play a role in the development of global business leaders, have both an opportunity and a responsibility to improve business leadership going forward.

“Sometimes people say it is too hard to find examples of female leadership, or of non-Western leadership, because CEOs are mostly Western men, but when we teach the same old examples that provide only very narrow models of leadership, we reinforce the status quo.

“In the words of my Dean, Ilian Mihov, we should ourselves be leading and not lagging. It is our job as business schools to help our students and participants develop so they can contribute more to improving business and society.

“One powerful way to do that is by providing diverse models of leadership. These diverse models have the potential to shift everyone’s mind-sets about what leadership looks like, which can both motivate more diverse leaders and enable decision makers to give traditionally underrepresented group members a chance.”

As an advocate for greater gender balance in business, in your position as Academic Director of INSEAD’s Gender Initiative, do you think this issue is being addressed in the sector?

“I see a lot being discussed with respect to gender these days; some of this might be called “pink-washing” and some is real effort; but there is still so much more to be done when it comes to creating gender balanced global business leadership.

“In 2017, just 15% of the world’s board seats were held by women. The top US, UK and Australian companies still have proportions of female CEOs in the single digits (e.g. the Fortune 500 has 6.4% female CEOs). Given that roughly half the world’s population is female, we have a long way to go to balance things out.”

If you could be transported into another profession for one week, which would you could choose, and why?

“There is part of me that always wanted to be an architect or a civil engineer – but I’d need to be transported for longer than a week to design anything, and then see it created, and I’d want to experience the full cycle.”

How do you relax?scuba

“I love tropical seas and used to “step into liquid” (scuba dive) very regularly to relax. These days I take my family to the beach on occasion. Currently my relaxation is mostly family focused – I read my son bedtime stories whenever I can to help us both unwind.”

Do you have a favourite quote or guiding principle?

“There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” – Rumi

“I take this to mean that there are myriad ways in which we as people can take right actions and be honourable. I also believe that respect for diversity should be woven into the fabric of our beings.”

About Zoe

Zoe’s primary expertise focuses on diversity and resiliency bolstering interventions.

Her diversity research often falls at the intersection of gender and culture, currently investigating methods for improving gender balance in organisations.

In addition to contributing to INSEAD's gender pedagogy, Zoe presents gender research to diverse audiences including academics, students and alumni, and professional organisations.

e zoe.kinias@insead.edu

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