How working with women taught me what works

wonder-woman-1016324_960_720 A recent NY Times op-ed called Sisterhood is Not Enough,” sheds light on the reality that though many women have cracked the glass ceiling, it gets patched up pretty quickly.  A plethora of women’s groups proliferate to create a sisterhood of strength and support to deal with the possibility that on top of that glass ceiling, there might be yet another one, even thicker, reducing opportunities and pay equality in upper management roles. But many of these like-minded women’s groups might be falling short in creating true opportunity and income equality. Why? Because men aren’t in them, and it’s men that need the enlightenment.

As a guy, I can say this: Men are dogs, jerks, sissies, hormonally challenged, oh, what’s the right word for my wayward brothers? The fact is that men just don’t want to accept that women can do things in the business world better than they can.  In the investment world, they are both wiser and more patient, and often outperform men. Yet, they make up only 12.4 percent of executive officers. Wouldn’t their wiser, less testosterone driven approach to money be welcomed? After all, I’m pretty sure derivatives cobbled together from subprime loans and sold into retirement funds was not a woman’s idea. And don’t get me started on startups, where they hold only 9 percent of management positions and the Venture Capital Boys don’t venture out of the testosterone waters much.

women-investing-780x439The reality is that women might be the most qualified for top management roles due to their having dealt with men personally and professionally. They’re superb at risk assessment. They’ve had years handling angry, volatile, insulting, leering men who say sexist, misogynist, and job threatening things every week. These are some pretty desirable business skills.

As a guy who works in a senior position for a woman owned agency (Renee Fraser/Fraser Communications) and who is primarily surrounded by women co-workers, here’s what I’ve come to know: They made me better at my job (I hope they agree, and this isn’t the testosterone talking). Previously, at my other management jobs in male dominated agencies, I was a stroppy mutt, thinking it was my way or the highway, and that intimidation was the sincerest form of flattery. When surrounded by women co-workers, I had to change that monkey-knuckled approach or suffer castration by a thousand glares.  But it wasn’t easy. Essentially, guys can be the proverbial bull in the China shop when it comes to working with women.

Here’s what I know as a man, from studies, articles, anecdotes, and in focus grouping some of the women I work with:

  • Men are linear thinkers. Generally, they move in a straight line from point A to point B, with a “Let’s get it done now,” aggressiveness, regardless of consequences.
  • The women I interviewed said you always know where you stand with a man. I have to say they might have encountered Enlightened Men, as I have suffered being unexpectedly upended by my share of male sociopaths.
  • Women care about inclusion and collaboration.
  • Women care more about feelings.
  • Women evidence more empathy but are also more guarded.
  • Men compete in an obvious fashion, and usually do a dance in the end zone when they win.
  • Women care more about the ‘good of the group’
  • Women may be more passive aggressive, and expert in subtle manipulations. (“Game of Thrones” definitely gets this)
  • Women connect on a deeper level than men do.
  • Men like to take the credit for everything. (“Game of Thrones” gets this too)
  • Men, with all they have, all they hoard for themselves, are hilariously insecure. (Woody Allen gets this)
  • Male execs with daughters are better execs. And males.

Working for and with women has made me a much better manager. More inclusive. More encouraging. More nurturing. More collaborative.  I haven’t yelled at anybody at work in over 4 years.  But if the situation is going to change, women are going to have to enlighten men, and bring them into their club. Demanding inclusiveness to The Men’s Club is not enough. That Club has to be shut down. And it’s the men who have to grow a pair, shut it down themselves and say goodbye to their boyhood ways.  Women will love them for it. And businesses will be better run, more fairly managed, more socially responsible, and the economy wouldn’t periodically gag on male greed.  And maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t rush off to so many damned wars.

With more women at the helm, we all might become better managers of the planet and our lives.

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