As published in the Express Woman Magazine October 24th 2010 as part of the Women In Leadership Series where Giselle Hudson and Dr. Marcia Reynolds explore the barriers that are still in the workplace and the world at large and help women confront their inner demons before they can find the peace they desperately seek. If they do this, their burdens can become joys and their restless spirits can become the passionate energy that helps them find, explore, and achieve their purposeful path.
If women aren’t accepted into the “good ole boys club” at work, should they demand inclusion or create a better, more attractive club?
I’m delighted to share the following story written by organisational psychologist and president of Germane Consulting, Dr Anne Perschel. Not only has Dr Perschel consulted with organisations and coached leaders to achieve promotions in many major corporations, her articles have appeared in many publications including Global Business an Organisational Excellence, Washington Post, and the Boston Herald.
Get your sunglasses, grab your beach blanket, and imagine the following scene of children playing in the sand:
Seven boys, ages 5-8, are engineering an intricate series of dams and rivers by the water’s edge. They even build a small hot tub and are enjoying their time in this mini-spa when along come the girls — first one, then two. As the third attempts to find a seat in the tub, two boys protest. “No girls allowed.”
The girls argue but eventually move along. Minutes later the mothers arrive and demand equal rights for the girls. The boys protest, but the mothers stand guard as the girls are begrudgingly allowed in the tub.
Clearly everyone is having less fun. As soon as the guards leave, the chanting begins anew, “No girls allowed.”
The mothers become distracted and the girls grow tired of trying.
Then one lone girl starts to dig a short distance from the boys. She is far enough to maintain respect for the rule of separation but close enough for the engineers and construction workers to see her. Other girls join in. They build elaborate scenes creatively using beach flora, fauna and debris to make bridges, houses, trees and people.
A curious boy inches his digging project closer to girls’ scene. Within minutes he connects his trench to their landscape. Other boys take note and edge closer. They build connecting roads as well. Soon the groups’ combined engineering and creative talents result in a complex and ingenious landscape filled with people, cars, pets, trenches, dams and a bigger co-ed hot tub.
Now please suit up for a visit to my client with whom I share this story. Ms Julie, the most senior woman in the organisation, has been complaining, whining even, that she does not get invited to important all-male networking events. She is a damsel in distress waiting to be rescued. I share the beach story with her then ask if she is going to wait for some adult to demand an invitation on Ms Julie’s behalf. Or like the girls on the beach, could she construct her own solution?
Ms Julie throws her own tailgating party. She invites the men and the women. The food is imaginative and delicious but she is sure to include the more traditional grilled hot dogs, hamburgers and sweet smelling sausages. Company parties are different now. The rule of “No girls allowed” has been rescinded.
If you can’t make your leaders acknowledge your efforts and promote you the same as men, you can complain about it or go do something much more fun.
In the last company I worked for, I kept suggesting we use teams to find solutions to perennial problems that were hindering our progress. My idea fell on deaf ears. So I found a champion in the Director of Quality. Together, we created a cross-functional improvement team and began to tackle some long-standing issues in innovative ways. Eventually, other departments began asking what we were doing. Within a year, using cross-functional teams for product development as well as problem-solving became part of the culture. I was given both a promotion and funds for a learning centre.
My vision is that in the new sandboxes, men and women play well together, honouring each other’s strengths and gifts. Maybe it is time we quit trying to break down the old structures. Instead, let’s create our own jobs and companies to be so attractive that all the most competent people will want to play with us.
I still honour those who choose to continue the noble fight. And I applaud the innovators who are creating a revolution using the power of attraction instead of force.
Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D. is the bestselling author of Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction. She is a professional coach and leadership trainer who teaches how to “outsmart your brain” to overcome challenges and find fulfillment on the road to success. Read more about her and her work at http://www.OutsmartYourBrain.com. For a free report “Standing at the Junction – How to Become your ‘Next’ Self”, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org