Though the job market has changed men still control and run most large companies. So, if you work in such an organisation it must be tempting to try to impress your company by being one of the boys. Especially as life seems easier for men in that environment.
One of my networkers told me she joined a large international company on the same day as her male colleague. After only a few weeks, she noticed top executives greeting him by name whereas she was just one of the drones to them. Why did these top nobs know him? “We play squash twice a week.”
Needless to say she started looking for another job and she eventually found one through my network – long story but with a happy result.
Is there a change of attitude by the boys at the top?A CEO of a major recruitment company told me I was pushing at an open door to achieve a goal of getting more women on to Boards as “everyone wants a woman on their Board.”
This might be because chief exes have seen figures that prove companies with women in high profile positions do better. True!
Apparently there is now a modest (my word!) feeding frenzy to recruit more women. And some companies are sending women on programmes for leadership, sales training and management development courses. In the U.S. they even have them doing role-play assertiveness in conflict-resolution workshops, all instructing women how to behave like men to survive and advance in the world of business. So wrong.
Because companies are now focused on reaching numeric goals and not encouraging culture change, hoping that addressing one agenda will eventually take care of the other.
And yes, there have been some successes in UK PLC. While producing some modest inroads, some women have advanced in male-designed corporations.
But there is a problem. The mind-set that creates so-called women friendly programmes these programs is not acknowledging the environment that women are coming into. It’s not recognising the value that women bring in thinking differently from men when solving problems or making decisions and actively seeking to blend the talents and skills of men and women – at all levels of leadership.
Women shouldn’t act like men. We have complementary talents, we think and do things differently. Effective women executives weld their people into teams by adopting a far more collegiate strategy than men. And we solve problems not better than men but differently.
I was staying with a friend overnight and was dressing to to host my network lunch. Problem:The blouse I brought to wear was very creased. Any man would obviously iron the blouse but neither I nor my friend like ironing. Besides I was running late.
Solution: she gave me a lovely scarf which I wore with a jacket. The creases were still there but now were completely covered. A non-masculine solution but it did the job.
My advice for savvy women surrounded by testosterone is not to act like one of the boys but to forge your own path as a woman, making decisions which are not better but different. And just as effective.