Firstly I apologise for blog silence over the past few weeks – A combination of writing 3 new websites, creating 2 new products and all the PR and writing opportunities created from the launch of my second book Diva Wisdom – Find Your Voice, Rock Your World and Pass it on had left me a tad empty on the writing front but get ready cos I am back with a vengeance and my soap box is in position!
Did International Women’s Day give you food for thought or pass you by in a blur or are you saying International what day???
Well as a reminder it was 8 March but the events and activities seem to extend into a week now and I was all over the place speaking at events, attending events and talking to the media. So what did I learn?
Well it will be no surprise to you that I feel we still have some way to go before we can say ‘job done, equality is in the bag!’ We still live in an 80/20 world and I noticed a bit of a concerning trend amongst many of my sisters, particularly those working in the still male driven corporate environment during my travels this past month.
Our need for collaboration may actually be our downfall if we do not wake up and smell the coffee. I cannot tell you how many conversations and debates I have listened to where women have put men centre stage for fear of alienating them or upsetting them at the very thought of positive action, in fact I had one conversation with a women who runs a forum for corporate women who deemed her first meeting to be a huge success as the audience was 70% male? Is it me? Am I missing the point? I am all for including men in the debate and see no reason to exclude them, but there is something else going on here, I feel we are not simply including them or inviting them to the party we are, in fact, asking their permission and this makes me mad! Then I calm down and just feel sad.
Our progress up the corporate ladder is more important than making the boys feel in control – there, I have said it and still the lightening does not strike!
This over concern about making the boys feel loved and unthreatened is, in effect, allowing many of them to subvert any progress. They all talk the talk but if they all truly believed parity was good for business and profits as has been proved over and over again, I am pretty sure they would be doing more trailblazing on our behalf.
We need to be careful who we accept as allies as not all arrive bearing gifts.
The other phenomenon I witnessed at several events is how women behave differently when men are allowed to take centre stage in this debate. The whole affair becomes less militant and more ‘is it OK if…’ and any impetus goes out of the window. Only the strong pioneers seem able to hold their own in mixed company and I wonder if this symptomatic of what is happening in the city towers and boardrooms of our major blue chip companies?
The one subject that divides the room is ALWAYS quotas and the only reason I hear over and over again from women about positive action is ‘I do not want to be a token women, I want to be promoted on my ability, not my gender.’ Well this is the system we have now and judging by the lack of women in senior positions one could argue it is NOT WORKING! Or are we saying the female talent pool is weak? And how do we automatically link quotas to incompetence?
An 80/20 society is not what we deserve, or need in the 21st century. The time for frame-breaking change is upon us. If we continue to progress at the rate we are doing we risk turning off the next generation of female leaders before they even leave school. If they cannot see a place for themselves other than as a pioneer or a trailblazer who can make it into the 20% they will make different choices. Not everyone wants to fight for change all the time. Most people just want to get on with the job!
Without positive action and a true sense of sisterhood to make it happen ,we can say goodbye to workplace equality because by the time we get there the talent pipeline will be empty!
To read more about my views in this area and the latest research Diva Wisdom is available on amazon now.