“I’m sorry”, “I can’t”, “I must” – lets change that inner voice


Be a Game Changer by changing your Inner Game – EMPOWERED IDENTITY

How often have you said, “I’m sorry”, “I can’t” or “I must” and felt the pressure of expectation on your shoulders. You might have felt burdened and unmotivated, confused or even angry. This is one of the biggest performance issues that hold us and our staff back but you can change your inner game and start to change the conversations with yourself that influence your beliefs and ultimately, your life.

During my Diversity Assessments and Gender Consulting, I often find that some women and men are almost held hostage by their own beliefs about themselves and the role that they think they need to fulfil in society. These beliefs do affect the way that we behave, they affect the way that we think of ourselves and this can translate into the way that we treat others, particularly our expectations of what other people should be doing. When we add traditional stereotypes to our judgements, these behaviours and beliefs can sabotage us. Sometimes you might feel like you can’t go forward and you can’t go back, you don’t know what decision to make and you feel totally worn out by ‘pushing against’ the norm, trying to get what you feel you deserve.

In speaking to hundreds of women over the last couple of years, I have found that we often fall into our gendered stereotypes even when we are actively working against them! I often hear statements that in effect, relegate the person into the very stereotype that they are trying to escape. I think that this is because we have been socialised we don’t even realise where our thoughts are coming from and this can lead to internal conflict. In our private lives this can manifest in all sorts of ways, but in our workplaces this can manifest as a lack of motivation, confusion and a degradation of performance.

I’m here to tell you that this is an organisational issue, not just a personal issue.

I believe that we won’t truly see greater women’s participation in leadership until we start to work on our inner game. For example, many of the young intelligent women that I speak to, tell me things like, “I have to take time off to have a baby”, or “My kids”, or “I have to”, or “I can’t”. They sometimes feel burdened and concerned about their job and how they will be perceived by others if they return, or if they don’t return to work. Its like you can’t win either way. When I talk to them about having a baby and how their organisation might support them, I ask them why they think they must take the time off and not their husband or partner. I point out that in actuality, they could have the baby and return to work almost immediately. They look at me strangely because they believe without a doubt that the child rearing, and particularly the early child rearing is their job. They must take the full burden of it, and to consider anything else is unheard of. If we are being perfectly fair, the child’s father could take over virtually straight away. Many new mothers don’t breast feed, so you could argue that it is only the time to recover from the birth that needs to be taken into account. Of course most mothers want to stay at home, and their are lots of studies that suggest that this is the best course of action, but in what paradigm is that? Don’t you wonder what lens and value system was in place when these studies were done, and what was the level of choice of those women at the time? Did they feel that they could really be honest and say that their career was really important or did they feel the enormous pressure of motherhood to be perfect and happy with this new life? How much of this pressure was self imposed?

We can challenge how we think about ourselves and reconsider our beliefs about ourselves, but in order to do this we need to look at our identity, what it means to us and how it is reflected by and affected by society and other people.

What might you achieve if you challenged the established norms of society? Check out our latest Working Session, “Be a Game Changer by changing your Inner Game – EMPOWERED IDENTITY”

She’s Upset but he’s Annoyed – more language talk


Originally posted on Changing Women:

This is an interesting one, why was I seen as upset by a couple of women  when complaining about a service this week and not plain annoyed?  I’m sure if I was a man, my complaint would have been seen as me being annoyed or even angry, but you don’t hear that a man is upset when he is complaining about something?

Recently, I found this happened to me during a conversation with three women at my Daughters school where I was complaining about the difficulty getting a response from the accounts area to check the school fee bill.   I was complaining about the service and the lack of ability of someone to take a message and return a call.  Instead of my complaint being relayed correctly, or even half correctly to the person in charge, the first thing that they said to me when getting on the phone to me…

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The link between shame and recognition, teenage drunkenness and difference


The increasing social issue of teenagers that get blind drunk on our streets as a entertainment pursuit is alarming but is there a message in the behaviour that we as adults just aren’t getting.  The behaviour is a form of recognition and belonging, and I think a form of protest against contemporary society and its values, many of which indicate a double standard.  You would think that a young girl passed out on the ground with her skirt up around her waist would be shameful, but its not in this new social accepted-ness that sees our youth drunk and disorderly.  Part of the badge of honour is to have your photo taken by someone else to prove that you have managed to ‘enjoy’ yourself so much and have drunk so much alcohol that you have now passed out on the street, exposing yourself to all sorts of danger in the name of fun.  Somehow this act has turned to recognition and maybe even a protest of difference.  They are challenging our idea of shame and turning it into a badge of honour that gives them membership to a group of ‘strangers’ to society.  The group of those protesting and wanting to be recognised for their own difference and identity.

From my reading of Gaita (2002) and his distinction between guilt and shame, I think that it is shame that is most powerful.  I found the most interesting was the discussion about the Holocaust where unbelievable pain and suffering experienced by so many.  It’s almost like we can easily keep functioning as humans with just guilt, but when we add shame to the mix, a realisation of what we have done and how it has affected others comes apparent and I think that this is ‘shame’.  As Nora Levin ‘put it’, some of the prose was written with ‘bleeding eyes’ (pg 277), an extreme outpouring of pain as a result of trauma.  Sure, the perpetrators may have felt guilty – and been found guilty of crimes but it is only when they understand “this kind of truth and reality” with an ‘informed heart’, do they understand and feel shame.

I certainly think that Gaita is onto something by linking together shame and recognition.  It seems that the pathway to the acknowledgement of ‘shame’ is through a process of an ‘informed heart’, more than an acceptance of culpability or guilt.  It goes to the core of a person and enlists deep and powerful feelings that must awaken‘recognition’ of the issue whether that is damage to someone or something else, or damage to oneself by actions.

REFERENCES

Honneth, Axel (1995), ‘Personal Identity and Disrespect: The Violation of the Body, the Denial of Rights, and the Denigration of Ways of Life’ in Axel Honneth and Charles Taylor,The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflict, Polity Press.

Gaita, Raimond (2002), ‘Guilt, Shame and Collective Responsibility’ in Michelle Gratten (ed) Reconciliation, Melbourne, Black Inc.

The Benefits of Diversity to perspective and decision making


I think that this quote from a book by Friedman that talks about friendship and moral growth can be easily applied to how greater gender balance and cultural diversity can make a difference to organisational decisions.  If you take out the word, moral, this quote highlights how diversity can give those in our organisations autonomy to make the right choices and decisions, based on a wider range of inputs.

“The greater the diversity of perspectives one can adopt for assessing rules, values, principals and character, the greater the degree of one’s autonomy in making moral choices” (Friedman 1993, pg.; 202)

Reference

Friedman, Marilyn (1993), ‘Friendship and Moral Growth’, What Are Friends For?’ in Feminist Perspectives on Personal Relationships and Moral Theory. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, pp. 187-207.

Equal Pay Day 3rd September 2013 – Vox Pops WEB


Mining, Engineering, Finance and IT all have something in common when it comes to encouraging girls into the field.


In my work in the mining industry doing Diversity Assessments I have found that there is some commonality in the way this industry and IT have to work towards encouraging girls to enter.  Focus on the skills of the future and not the skills of the past.  Engineering provides the pathway to future development and sustainability and this appeals to women.  Studies in female investment show that women are more discerning when making decisions, looking closely at the details, they are interested in longevity and an organizations ability to support environmental sustainability.  They also like to ‘give back’ through investment and this research can be applied to the mining industry.   Information technology provides the skills to live in contemporary society where decisions and influence are done via technology.  Therefore they are ‘must have’s’, its not about telling girls that maths and science is cool.  Its about reframing the proposition so it makes sense to girls.

Are you programmed to support?


Pretty Woman

Pretty Woman

Many women have been socialised over decades in a female gender role which encourages them to be supportive, not to speak up and to defer to a male decision maker.  We are encouraged to be pretty, attractive, sexy and basically looked at and admired so it is hardly surprising that many women don’t know how to move past this stereotype and create new behaviours and expectations for themselves that allow them to more past some of the limitations of our traditional gendered roles.

In the workplace this can reduce their effectiveness, and may hinder their ability for promotion.  This is often more evident in non managerial roles where the role dictates that you are a supporter and not a leader.  In my Gender and Diversity work, I often hear managers say that women are given every opportunity to ‘step up’ but they just don’t and I think that some of this is due to that socialisation and the women’s own idea of what is expected of her.  Just providing the opportunities won’t be enough, we also need to change entrenched behaviours, our own self identity and our own expectations of ourselves as women to really make the change so diversity programs need to be aware of this when they are designed.  Unfortunately it is a longer road than many CEO’s will fund, but the pay offs in the long run are worth it for those that can make the leap.

Is the new Communication non Communication?


email-communication-face-to-face-2I am a person that wants to discuss issues.  I will tackle difficult circumstances and am not easily frightened by doing something uncomfortable so I wonder is it just me or have people become less able to cope with difficulty?

In my current line of work, I need to speak to lots of people.  I say ‘speak’ figuratively really, because I rarely get to ‘speak’ to any of them, instead I end up speaking to their voice mails.  I can ring ten people a day and be lucky to actually speak to one of them.  Then there is the ring back.  Most people just don’t ring back and yes I understand that it might be because they don’t want what I am selling, or they don’t have time at that moment, or they have other priorities, but the no ring back is at epic proportions now, even when they wanted me to do something for them!  I really think that it is because people just don’t know how to handle bad news or any sort of potential difficulty so instead of saying, ‘no sorry, just not interested’, they say…Nothing.

I know a person, who in the early stages of meeting me was so full on and keen to ‘help’ me, they were so fired up and motivated.  That enthusiasm eventually waned and then they didn’t return calls or emails for some months.  Yes, yes this could be because I am not good to work with.  Finally when they did get back to me because I needed confirmation from them that they wanted to be part of the conference I am organising,  I did hear from them within a day.  Maybe they thought that they were going to miss out on something that they wanted, maybe it was something else I don’t know.  They put the non communication down to ‘personal issues’.  Sadly this seems to the a theme at the moment where people have ‘personal issues’ that are preventing them from doing their job or at least communicating with the people that they need to communicate with.  I think it is on the rise, and potentially it has something to do with the rise of in depression and bipolar.  Maybe its just me, maybe I’m too demanding (as the song goes), or maybe its just how things are and people just don’t respect others in the way that they used to. Maybe technology has allowed us to be just so much better at non communication because we are so busy looking down at our phones and computers that we just don’t know how to connect to other people anymore.  Either way, this non communication stuff can be time consuming for those of us that do communicate.  What sort of society have we created where people can’t get back to you, have personal issues and are basically so busy that they can’t possibly be performing at their peaks?

I really wonder, if all these people are ‘so busy’, and ‘too busy to call’, are we running a real risk of degrading organisational performance by pushing people too hard.  Are the rounds of cutbacks and rationalisations now detrimental to the point that we have our  valuable human resources just shutting down for what ever reason?  Maybe this is why people go into ‘non communication’ mode – simply because they just can’t cope.

Are some women creating new barriers for themselves?


fortune_500s_suffer_from_a_deficit_of_boardroom_diversity

A recent article in smh.com.au small business by Gayle Bryant March 08, 2013 said that; “To be a leader, a woman must think like a leader”, and referred to research by Suzi Skinner of Selftalk (selftalk.com.au), that identified that even when some women reach senior leadership roles they still struggle to come to terms with their new role and how they should behave and respond against the backdrop of how many women are still expected to behave, that is; how we are socialized to recognize the behaviors of the female gendered identity.  For some women, this new environment dealing with senior men can be daunting, but I would argue not because they lack the qualifications, the experience or the internal fortitude required, more because they have not been given permission from an early age to be a ‘leader’ that fits into the traditional business landscape.  By that I mean, fitting into business environments that have been built on having male leaders.  You only have to visit the majority of boardrooms to see the masculine furniture and decor and this alone can intimidate some women, particularly if they are not used to these environments.  Although most women are well used to working as the minority with greater number of men, there are underlying messages that tell us that this is a male friendly environment.  It is often designed with male decor in mind because it has largely male leaders who of course want to feel comfortable in their working environment.  These environments ‘tell’ us how to behave, what to expect and we know who is in charge just by looking at them, what’s more we expect to see a man as leader.  Heavy dark panelled wood walls were a feature in many older board rooms, coupled with timber tables and black leather chairs that give you messages about the hidden rules and behaviours that are required when you enter.

“I found even when women become leaders in a senior management role, they often find they are still not treated as they should be,” she says. “It might be that in meetings they are not being listened to, or people will talk through their presentations. One of my core findings is the need to create an environment where women are taken seriously and that will entail a major mindset shift.” says Suzi Skinner of Selftalk

I certainly agree with all the points in Bryant’s article and find this information mirrors my own observations.  I continue to see women in senior leadership still acting out their gendered roles, some more than others, but many still defer to the man in the room in one way or another.  As the article says, not all women want to become CEO’s just as not all men do, so the constant focus on women in leadership could be adding to a lack of equality and recognition for women generally – now there is something else for them to aspire to!

RFERENCE;  http://m.smh.com.au/small-business/to-be-a-leader-a-woman-must-think-like-a-leader-20130228-2f85o.html

A little equality test


Things have surely changed?

Things have surely changed?

How equal is your relationship? If you are a male executive and primary wage earner for your household, ask yourself if you would be happy to swap your salary for that of a female peer in your company or your female partner or your wife. Chances are that a female peer in your company will still earn 17% less than you do. Chances are your wife or daughter earns 17%* less for the same work as a man regardless of the role.

So when you are next negotiating a female’s wage and know that it is not parity of her male peers (mostly because it is not transparent), ask yourself again – would this be OK for me.

 

 

REFERENCES

http://www.jpost.com/National-News/CBS-Women-earn-17-percent-less-than-men-on-hourly-basis

http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2011/05/16/why-do-new-female-college-grads-earn-17-less-than-men/

http://www.iadb.org/en/news/webstories/2012-10-15/wage-gap-between-men-and-women,10155.html

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-13/how-much-is-the-ceo-worth-for-women-it-s-17-percent-less

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