Skip to main content

Should you pour the tea?

"Will you be mom?" was a frequent request in my early boardroom days.   Not to mention, "will you take the notes?"

Not sure why, but while the notes just bothered me a little, the tea request drove me crazy.

The advent of coffee machines and tablets has largely done away with those two, but my discussions with many women who are sitting on boards and excos today tells me that there is still a way to go for women to feel fully included.

Gender jokes, swearing and male exclusive activities are some of the not so subtle ways that women mention.   Should you laugh at the jokes, accept the c word as a standard and take up deep sea fishing?

And if you don't, should you feel guilty about curbing their natural behaviour when you are around, which you are worried they will use as an excuse for further exclusion?

In other words, they are much more relaxed and themselves when you are not there, so do you accept things that make you uncomfortable in order to fit in.

Not so easy, and, adding to that, do you and your fellow female execs male bash when its "just the girls"? Or if you are a predominantly women exec group, do you regularly have conversations that would make the average man run for the trees?

Equal opportunity gender discrimination.....

Retaining your sense of humour while ensuring that you are not made to feel constantly uncomfortable is a real challenge.   I have tried both, and found it was like the frog in the water1, if you didn't say anything, there was a fast plummet into serious lavatorial humour, and if you did, there was an equally fast freeze out.

At this point, I would like to share that I have (and currently still do), worked with the most amazing gender sensitive men, who have never made me feel anything other than a fully contributing business colleague.   They, and there are lots, have been mentors, partners and coaches that I appreciate every day.

Is there a way that takes the emotion out of it, and moves gender issues forward in a positive and constructive way?    There is statistical information which clearly indicates that including women in top management and executive positions has a positive impact on the bottom line.

In South Africa, there is an interesting initiative that is talking about embracing gender mainstreaming and putting it forward as a key way to start making the changes.   Colleen Larsen (@collarsen) is running workshops on the topic during July.  What is it?  Its a methodology that encourages men and women to work together to effect change.   If you want to find out more, contact Colleen or let me know so that I can point you in the right direction.

The original question about pouring the tea still stands, though?   Should you?   or its 2014 equivalent...


Links, References and Notes

Accsys
Boiling frog
Business Engage

Note


Thank you for reading Teryl@Work.   Should you wish to use any of the material, please acknowledge this blog as the source

email:      tschroenn@accsys.co.za
twitter:   @TerylSchroenn




Popular posts from this blog

Thinking of leaving - should you discuss it with your manager?

The exit interview is not the time to tell your manager that you would have stayed if.....   When you are serious about your career, and really enjoy your job, except for one key component, take the time to talk before you resign.

While sometimes the grass is greener, more often than not you just inherit new issues at a new company.

It is a difficult labour market in South Africa right now, there is a skills shortage, and yet there are millions of people without jobs.   Working for a stable company, with people you like, and a job you enjoy is important, and yet there are often those frustrations that give you itchy feet.

In your current position, your manager might really want to keep you, and be very interested in finding out what would make you a happier, more productive, employee.   It is also sometimes much easier to have that conversation with somebody you already know, than have it in your first weeks in a new position.

When you know you have choices, as well as know that you …

Agile workers & workspaces - a new way of working..

Being an agile worker is still a work in progress…
Is flexibility now a reality in the workplace?And is it really working? We keep renaming it – remote, activity based and agile work being some of the current terms. The assumption of control over one’s own time and deliverables does look like a great way to work and live, and it seems to be is a high priority for those entering the business world. There is also the development of the agile work space, where people come to the office each day, but don’t have a fixed work area.We used to call it hot desking back in the day and it met with mixed success.Today, office designers have started to create work spaces which are intended to encourage innovative thought, cross departmental collaboration and improved productivity. My research indicates that the mix of engaged and disengaged employees in an open plan workspace does not always have the desired effect of the positive workers influencing the culture.In fact, a case study of a senior execut…

Setting Budgets and Targets

Does too much of a stretch impact motivation?    Over many years of setting (and trying to achieve) targets and budgets, getting the balance right between stretch and motivation remains a challenge.

I love Jim Collins and Jerry Porras and their BHAGs in their great book, Built to Last, but if the goals are seen as unachievable too early in the business year, what then?

Is there a way for businesses to achieve success without budgets and targets in place?

Two old favourites " You can only manage what you can measure" and "People do what managers measure" suggest that they can't.  I am sure there must be successful businesses with different methodologies, but most of us need to work towards something.

With that in mind, I think there needs to be stretch, and there needs to be a sense of achievability.

Why would you race against Usain Bolt unless you think you could win?

The same goes for budgets and targets, people need to believe they are possible.

So how do you…