Women In Business, What It’s Really Like!
It would amiss not to mention what’s going on in media right now.
We can’t turn on the tv or look on the internet without seeing a headline about another man in a power position forcing his hand or verbal nonsense onto a woman who isn’t interested in his advances.
Although I’m not shocked by the news, I am surprised by the amount of it. The amount of men who have behaved in this way over the years is what sort of surprises me.
I suppose I really shouldn’t be though.
It Happens Way More Than We Say
I’m a woman in business. I no longer work for other people in the sense that I have a boss of my own. My clients are my boss now, but I am the one who is in the “power” position.
That wasn’t always the case though. There was a time not that long ago where I was reporting to others.
Did bosses say things to me that were inappropriate? You bet they did. Did I always stand up for myself? No, I sure didn’t. It happened on a semi-frequent basis, but nothing so major that I ever felt in danger. I’m not sure how I would have handled that, but I suspect it would have had an extremely strong reaction.
In business, women have all sorts of roles, for me, I am the one who is on the front line, the one who sells us to the masses. I see people all the time. What I have noticed is that even when you have the most professional outfit, the most professional manner, or even a bit of an edge, men can treat women differently in this arena too.
A Woman Can Own The Company Too
I find that when given the choice, a man usually assumes that his fellow man owns the company. For example, when The Content Company did its first trade show in 2014, we had two of us manning the booth. Me, the co-owner of the company, and a male writer who worked for us.
The percentage of men that assumed he was the owner of the company was extremely high. I remember hearing him say over and over again, “She is the owner of this company, I am a writer for her”. Why did they assume “he” was the owner? I am an expert at content creation and even SEO…so why did many of those men think he was in charge?
When I go to meetings, I dress the part. I dress modestly and usually pretty trendy. I have had comments made to me from business associates like, “That’s fu*&(ng hot”, when I become the expert and speak intelligently about a subject.
“Would you say that to a man? No? Then don’t say it to me” is my attitude. I get that we are still biologically charged, I know this is how we are built. Men and women, attraction and chemistry and all of that, but come on! We are certainly more evolved as a species to keep our mouths shut when we know what we are about to say is the wrong thing to say.
Why Should We Change?
I also find that in order to be taken seriously, women have to slightly change who they are at the core.
If you are seen as too friendly, it’s flirting. If you are too friendly, you might be perceived as a poor business person, like you aren’t intelligent enough to be at that table or in that room. If we allow our natural tendencies of being a woman show, you often aren’t taken as seriously as our male counterparts.
What’s the answer? It means we have to harden ourselves or not smile as often or not make jokes as often etc. We kind of have to be the bitch in the room, which is ridiculous I agree, but it is also reality. I’m not suggesting we all walk around like these rude non-smiling beings all day, I am saying that there is a threshold to being totally authentic if you want to be taken seriously, at least in the beginning of a business career.
There are tons of really great things about being a woman in business too, but that is for another post…
Hope you this post has given you a bit of insight into what it can be like for us ladies and how to change the perception even a little bit. We know women are powerful and that we can really affect change, might as well start acting like it!
About the author:
Cara is the President of The McCarron Group and the President/Partner of The Content Company based out of Toronto. With over 15 years of sales and marketing experiences, Cara specializes in Digital Marketing including SEO, PPC and Social Media.