Monday, 21 January 2013

Female Leadership

 
Over the 25 years that I have been in sales and consulting I have always noticed how difficult it was for any woman in a position of any semblance of authority.  Not only getting there but in dealing with the day to day agenda that being a woman can attract from 'colleagues'

In direct Sales, which is a tough, in your face, no holds barred, environment the level of sexism is high.  It is not as bad as it was in the 80's and 90's thankfully but it is still there.

I have never understood why the question arises about 'women having the right to be in charge, or get promoted etc.  Women have just as much right as anyone to be in a leadership position but a lot of the old 'dinosaur' managers and salespeople would want to make you think otherwise.

I have heard of and seen a few very competent and capable women be turned down for a sales job thru fear.  Not theirs; but the fear of the man recruiting them.  They were far, far more capable than any of the other candidates.  I checked the recruitment system of a major blue chip sales company in London once and when I saw the candidates that had been turned down for the role, and compared them with the candidates that had been employed, I was shocked.

I wasn't shocked at the decision after I heard the conversation that had taken place after the interviews.  the manager that had been interviewing had conducted the interview with his area Manager. 

The Area Manager had told him, "I agree that she is the best candidate but use your head.  She is married and 24 years old with no kids.  You are targeted for 12 members of your team.  She could get pregnant at any time and then have a year off at full pay and benefits and you have to make up the numbers.  She is probably looking for a job like this so she can do just that.  Are you prepared to cover for her for a year?"

There are worse stories than that, believe me. 

Door to door saleswomen being told to wear short skirts and unbutton their tops more so that they get attention and gain interest from the potential customers who open the door.

Derogatory remarks made about women at Director level.  Sexist remarks made during meetings.  Its a point scoring thing which, in every time I have heard it, I have called the perpetrator on their bullshit.  I don't want to hear it.  I don't think it fair.  It's unnecessary and quite frankly, as a man, I don't want to be associated with other men who behave like it.  It is unprofessional and not the kind of thing a leader or anyone who wanted to be a leader would think was correct behaviour.

There is always banter, and practical jokes and a few laughs to be had in any work environment but there is a line.

In this day and age there should be NO difference between a male leader and a female leader.  They are LEADERS.  They do their job, they do it with integrity, they do it with authenticity, and they do it brilliantly.  If they dont' it's because they did something wrong, it's not because they are a woman or a man. 

The more we can encourage women to make a name for themselves in business the better.  BUT we don't want anyone to go into business BECAUSE they are a woman.  I don't believe we should recruit women because we 'need a few to make it look good'.  People, whether they are male or female, should be employed, mentored, coached, and promoted thru a company because of what they can do, not what they are.

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