I was in a meeting this week where the numbers were eight men and two women, myself included. Naturally, I won’t go into details of the gathering but one matter does need airing because it’s indicative of the uphill battle women in business face.
The other woman in the party of 10 shows little business acumen. Still, the group is supportive and I like to think that I listen and give valuable insights that may help her. It’s all part of the merry-go-round of learning how to survive and hopefully thrive in what can be a tough game – running your own enterprise.
Then this woman let out a real gem in front of the entire group. She’s probably approaching 40 and you’d think she should know better. Out of the mouth of this babe came these words:
“I’d much prefer to deal with men in business because they say things that really help me, unlike women. All they do is talk and talk.”
Now if I were thin-skinned, I could have taken offence at her comment.
I was the only other woman in the room and I’ve never had the reputation of falling into the ‘talk and talk’ category. I wouldn’t have been part of the growth of the Switzer Group if that was the case. If anything, people regard me as a listener, and I try to drop appropriate comments if I feel they have value. While I didn’t take this as a personal affront, I was taken aback and couldn’t stop myself from saying to her, “On average, I think successful women in business are no less focused or talk any more than successful men.”
Perhaps I could have said something more profound. But the adrenalin was running and I did my best from saying something I’d rather not. I certainly didn’t want to say anything that would give off the air that a catfight could occur. It was the best I could think of at the time.
Should I have stayed mute? What else could I have said? I’m still not sure about these answers. All I know is that I’ve worked very hard to advance the cause of women in business because I know what an uphill battle it has been for me to be recognised over the years.
You know, being in a meeting where men don’t listen to what you say until some turkey picks up your idea, repeats it and then gets lavished with praise for it! And let me not forget the parade of bank managers, insurance brokers, real estate agents, car salesmen and government departments – the list could go on – that I’ve had to do battle with over the years so I could be seen as having equal value as my husband.
And just when you feel that you’re making some headway with the boys’ brigade, in comes this misguided girl who, in front of the men, does a massive put down of women.
The trouble is, this isn’t an isolated example. You know, the court is out about whether men are more focused, and who talks more, but one thing’s for sure – men show far more solidarity to each other than what I’ve seen women show. Something’s gotta give.
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