Not Taken Seriously As A Woman
Today I was told by another woman that my business advice (that I was being paid to give mind you) would not be taken seriously because I’m a woman.
Ugh. Allow me to explain.
We interrupt our regularly scheduled weekly blog cycle because I can’t go to sleep without getting this post off my chest. In light of all the recent discussion about my #weekofwhy and my recent decision to focus my business on empowering women, I really feel like I have to put this out there.
I am paid to give others strategic business advice. It’s pretty cool. Let me be clear; I am someone that knows I have a TON to learn. I try to learn every day because there’s something to be learned from everyone. That’s one of the remarkable things about life and business; it’s always evolving. It’s a good thing I’ve always been a bit of a school nerd. Learning is fun!
That said, the things that I am good at, I am damn good at. And, I am good at business strategy. This isn’t arrogance. This is me, owning what I bring to the table.
So today, I was having a meeting with a woman that I love. She is kind, and she is brilliant. She is the second in command to a man that I’ve also enjoyed working with. He was not present today.
She asked me for my advice on behalf of her boss regarding a business issue that I just so happen to be very knowledgeable about. I gave her my opinion. She replied, with a defeated look on her face, that while she agreed with 100% of what I had to say and thought it was the right course of action for the business, that Boss Man would never listen.
She then said that the only chance of getting Boss Man to listen would be if an outside person gave him the recommendation. Mind you, I am an outside consultant, so I was scratching my head a bit at that one.
She then went on to say that as much as she hated to admit it that ideally, the recommendation should come from another man if we had any hope of getting Boss Man to take it seriously.
I’m sorry…. what?!
I honestly didn’t know how to respond. I’ve known Boss Man for years. He knows me, and he knows what I’m capable of. Are we honestly talking about the same guy? Maybe I missed a memo, and someone new is in charge.
Not really knowing how to respond, I did my best to stay focused on what we were there to solve for and close out what was a mostly productive meeting except for this minor blip.
When I left the meeting, I was on fire!
As the afternoon has gone on, I’ve reflected a lot more. My anger has ebbed and has been replaced by a fair bit of sadness, along with a healthy dose of gratitude and humility.
The sadness comes not from thinking about what she said, but from thinking about what she didn’t say. Her tone of voice. Her body language. She radiated defeat. This is someone that is truly phenomenal, and there she was resigned to the fact that our recommendation, even though it was the right one, would not be taken seriously by Boss Man because we are women. This was her reality, and she begrudgingly had accepted it. It makes me sad for her. She deserves better.
The gratitude took a bit longer to sink in, but it did eventually. I realized that while this interaction put a severe cramp in my style today, for me, it’s just one day and for that I am grateful.
This woman has to deal with this BS Every.Single.Day.
I then realized, with a sense of extreme humility, that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve encountered such blatant dismissal that had nothing to do with my skills and everything to do with my gender. What privilege I enjoy.
There are people out there who spend their entire lives feeling judged, dismissed, marginalized and minimized. These are the people who should look like that gorgeous leopard, not me. These are the people who deserve empowerment.
Me, I’m going to use this as a learning opportunity.
Moreover, I am going to remind myself, and hopefully some others out there, that every day is an opportunity to choose how we conduct ourselves in life and in business.
So today, and every day, choose to be kind. Choose tolerance and empathy.
Choose forgiveness, happiness, gratitude, and humility.
We’ll all be a little better off for it.