Gender Diversity

Three signs your progressive organisation might not be as progressive as you think it is

Thoughts on #pinkwash.png

"Bah." "Humbug." "Pink wash!"

No-one sets out to be the squeaky wheel. I certainly don't want to be tarred with the angry woman brush, as prejudice and bias abound against women who are perceived as angry. As a society we dismiss female anger as if it's a sign of being out of control, over emotional or irrational (witchy, whiny or wild).  Whereas, research shows us that angry men are more likely to be perceived as powerful, authoritative and highly credible.  Another double standard to be sure.

But every now and then a woman's got to call a spade a spade.  And today I call "pink wash" to highlight a really common issue.

A few weeks ago I attended a dinner held by a self-proclaimed progressive business organisation. I was under the impression that I had been invited because the organisation had identified that they had a gender diversity problem in the membership and at their events and I was 1. helping make up numbers of women and 2. would be asked for my recommendations at some stage down the track.

Indeed, the organisation does have a gender diversity problem. At the dinner, at a rough guess, there were 250+ men in the room and about 40 women, even with quite a few women like me invited to make up numbers. The pre-dinner foyer area was a veritable sea of grey with male business leaders and politicians.

It was when we entered the dining room that the issue really began to unfold and made me wonder if the self-proclaimed progressive organisation might not be as progressive as they imagined.

Sign #1 - I was seated at a table of all women. Yes, that's right. Despite the hugely obvious gender imbalance in the room, I was seated at the girly table - just like the kids table at Xmas dinner!  In fact, we were all women who had been invited to make up numbers. And yet there we were making up numbers in a corner of our own.  I had imagined I'd be spending the evening having meaty discussions with business and government leaders of both genders. After all, what could be more progressive? However, that was not to be.  Thanks to the conversation at the table, a good time was had by all, but at what cost?

Sign #2 - I turned to comment to my accompanying guest, and she was even more frustrated than me. She exclaimed that it had been the same the previous year, so she (and several of the other women at the table) had given their feedback and recommendations about the perceived archaic segregation of the sexes, and yet their advice had obviously not been listened to. Another missed opportunity.

Sign #3 - Finally, I commented to one of the representatives of the hosting organisation that perhaps integrating the invited women onto other tables might have been a good idea.  She replied that seating us separately had been a deliberate initiative because they wanted to start a separate women's network and were using us as a test case.  Finally, the information I needed to understand. They had an another agenda entirely, possibly a financial one, and this had become a misguided attempt at creating gender equity, but totally missed the inclusion piece of the equation.

And this gets my goat.  

I see many examples of companies spruiking gender equity when in fact they are either chasing the pink dollar or merely doing window dressing:

  • Manufacturers who charge more for products for women than men - in 2016 this sexist surcharge was measured at a whopping 37%.

  • Commercial conference producers who run Women in Leadership Conferences, charge top dollar for attendees, but who don't pay (or offer peanuts) for female speakers.

  • Conference producers and associations who pull their entire conference program together with a token female MC or only one or two female speakers.

  • Banks who announce gender equity targets such as 50:50 by 2030, who run advertising campaigns to highlight gender inequality etc, yet minimal (if any) budget is allocated to actually achieving said targets.  Insider anecdotal evidence from staff suggests that they are far more heavily invested in winning female customers than meeting their internal gender equity targets.

  • Peak bodies, think tanks or firms who publish ground-breaking research and white papers on the benefits of gender equity, and hold themselves out to be leading the way, yet their own structures and cultures demonstrate the very antithesis of diversity and inclusion.

And the list goes on.

The women I speak to and work with are discerning. They've been around long enough to know the difference between actually doing something about gender equity and window dressing, with a side of pink opportunism.

My challenge to men and women everywhere is to call "pinkwash" when you see it -  

  • where organisations who are unintentionally getting it wrong, or

  • those who simply aren't listening, or perhaps

  • those who have an agenda of their own that is counter productive.

The double standards you walk past are the double standards you accept

And to the progressive organisation who invited me to dinner? You've got a branding problem.  Progressive is as progressive does.  In this instance, the term progressive was a noun and not a descriptor.  Whereas a truly progressive company wouldn't need to call themselves progressive, because it would have been obvious throughout the entire evening.
YOUR THOUGHTS?   When was the last time you called "pinkwash"?  And what was it for?   Drop me a note and let me know.

#womenofimpact #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #pinkwash

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When sexist comments make your blood boil ..... go postal!

Power of outrages for executive women.jpg
When did it become a zero sum game of being good at managing money or good at relationships? I’m pretty good at walking and chewing gum at the same time.

A funny thing happened on the way to Brisbane the other day.  I was sitting on the plane, when a man sat down next to me.  We exchanged details (him: financial columnist, me: executive coach for executive women).  The ensuing conversation (documented below), ended with me feeling frustrated, flabbergasted ..... and angry.

Oh no.  I'm "that angry woman"

The Angry Woman Stereotype

The stereotype of an angry woman is  ...... emotional, out of control, less logical and less credible. We all saw the way that Hillary Clinton was portrayed when she displayed anger.  It's a tough gig to remain credible as a woman when you are known for being angry.

What the Research Says

Researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Illinois at Chicago looked at the differences in the way we perceive angry men or women and highlighted the double standard.

They found that "women's anger worked against them, while men's anger served as a "powerful" tool of persuasion. When the holdout was a male who expressed anger, participants significantly doubted their own opinion, even when they were in the majority. But if the holdout was a woman who expressed anger, she actually had less influence over participants -so much so that it was the only scenario in the study in which participants became more confident in their own opinion that opposed that of the woman."

The alternatives for women are pretty limited - grace and poise under pressure still come to mind.

Then that's it. Nada.

Going Postal

So what recourse did I have? How could I do something, express my outrage yet stay credible? 

So I created a (semi) viral LinkedIn Post. I call it "going postal". 

  • Going Postal - normally refers to out of control anger. Definitely a career limiting move (CLM) for leading women and men.

  • "going postal" (note lower case and yes this is my new definition) - creating a LinkedIn viral Post to drive awareness and change.

Jane Anderson, Influencer and blogging expert, in a recent blog talks about staying above the line.  

  • Below the line = criticising, negative, using fear.

  • Above the line =. drawing attention and proposing a positive solution
    So my definition of "going postal" also includes an element of positivity.

So what got my dander up? 

Read the blog below - then head over to LinkedIn and tag a financially savvy woman somewhere! 

The above the line action? After a week, I'll be emailing my flight buddy with a list of fabulously financially savvy women for him to refer to in his next column! 

Let's kick this stereotype to the curb (yet again).

Read on .... and be prepared to be flabbergasted  ...

I was shocked  by a sexist comment yesterday on a flight. “#Women simply can’t manage money as well as men”, he said. 

This wasn't just any sexist guy, it was  #Financial columnist for a well known publication 

“Women don’t care about money - they care more about people“ he went onto say.

WTF??? 🤯 

A total insult to most of the women in my circle of friends and colleagues if not all women everywhere! 

You’d think I was back in the 1950's   

I can't even excuse his age because my grandma (even older than he) was AWESOME at #financialmanagement. 

I nearly had an apoplexy! 

Bias and stereotypes are rampant in our business world. And with so few women visibly leading the financial space, it’s no wonder. 

It’s far easer to accept the old narrative and stereotyped norms as a version of the truth. Hang out with enough people who think the same as you, and you’ll end up with a bad case of confirmation bias to boot! 

Three financially savvy women I admire -

  • Sally Krawcheck, Ellevest

  • Christine Lagarde, IMF - and closer to home

  • Gail Kelly, 1st female CEO of a major Australian bank

 >> COMMENT - Which women do you know who are AWESOME at finances and who care about #finance and #people?  TAG a financially savvy woman somewhere.

Let’s kick this stereotype to the curb (yet again).    

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (vale Aretha)  

HAVE YOUR SAY - Don't forget to tag in the comments on LinkedIn (or send me the names) of fabulously financially savvy women. I'll be sending my new friend a list.

#feminineambitionrocks #womenofimpact #linkedInlove

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months