The most frequent reason that women opt out of business life is that they can’t be bothered with the ‘old boys club’. What does this phrase mean you might ask? I know that the phrase bothers men and so does the term ‘alpha male’ because men of this type, who might be in such a cliquey club, don’t look in the mirror and men who have a higher EQ (emotional intelligence) which includes listening skills, don’t like the club or the the way it works either.
However there is an interesting difference between men and women generally and that is this: Men are more willing to conform to the norm and women will usually ‘whistle blow’ or ‘walk’ and even if they stay, they will do so by burying their needs and values, keeping their head down and getting on with the job to pay the bills. To add further confusion, there are plenty of women who are more like men and gain rapport with aggressive behaviour! Phew, a complex web I think!!
It is worth reminding ourselves of some gender differences here (yes we are generalising):
• Women collaborate and men compete
• Men are structured in approach and women are more intuitively savvy
• Women share concerns and men prefer not to
• Men can be binary and women can be complex
• Women prefer consensus and men prefer authority
• Men say ‘my way or the high way’ and women say ‘how shall we do this?’
• Men play for money and status and women play for purpose and relationships
This is by no means an exhaustive list but when these dynamics play out, it can be very stressful for those involved and especially for the woman who feels she isn’t being heard or supported.
In the FT Luke Johnson once wrote that ‘the boardroom resembles a psychiatric ward where those at the helm spend their entire time backstabbing, stealing credit and waging turf wars’ and goes on to ask ‘how can you apply logic to egomaniacs?’ Harsh as this may sound it is a view shared by many women.
Draconian behaviour and the ‘old way’ is dying out as more and more enlightened men join the call for more democracy, more humility, better ethics and the treatment of colleagues as valued partners.
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you are being bullied or side-lined because your face doesn’t fit remember, it’s not about you; find a team or a company that supports your flight, your ambition and your needs. Life is too short and thankfully, there are many enlightened men and women who support a dignified and elegant way of doing business that supports a hard work ethic, combined with mutual respect. The two aren’t mutually exclusive and it is our duty to insist this is our common base-line, so that we can begin to dilute the power of the ‘boys club’ and the walls that they build to keep out people who aren’t like them and refuse to conform.
Until next time, have a beautiful week and live with passion.