Everyday sexism – it cuts both ways

There is no doubt that sexism exists, and not just in the workplace. It is a part of everyday society. Does this mean that it is acceptable? No. Does this mean that everyone is sexist to some extent? Maybe.

We exist and strive here at the3rdi to address sexism in many of its covert and overt forms. We give voice and support to a myriad of theories views and experiences. Through this, we try to remain neutral and balanced. There is a perspective here however that is unashamedly singular, sexism from the male perspective. I ask you to set aside any immediate prejudice in this area and such sweeping generalisations as “men cannot multi-task” to present before you the statement that sexism exists in both directions. Sexism can be experienced by men from women as well as on women from men. This is not a general comment; these are facts. I know them to be true because they are my experiences, first hand. They are my facts and they are true.

When starting my corporate career I completed a management training programme with a global engineering company. I travelled around the organisation spending time in just about every department, from marketing to HR, from Accounts to the factory floor.

I encountered direct sexism on many occasions. When acting as apprentice in the manufacturing section I worked for periods of eight and 24 weeks on various assembly lines. In the teleprinter area which required a higher degree of dexterity and less heavy load work, the majority of the workforce were women. I encountered sexism every minute of every day from having to squeeze between two workbench staff that had moved their respective chairs too close together in order that I made physical contact (this causing me great embarrassment and them hysteria). I was regularly required to pick up dropped screws and bolts whilst the “girls” watched and commented and hailed innuendo. I was regularly asked what I wanted for lunch “poke and stuffing today” (a vulgar reference to pork). If I commented or blushed, the ridicule was heightened. “Oh! Look Christine, the little boy is embarrassed. Come here love, I’ll show you what to do with your soldering stick!” In the offices, the same again but marginally less overt. Mother-hen middle-aged desperate housewives and admin pools that delighted in my obvious embarrassment at discussions about their respective partners lack of sexual prowess or the regular refuge of the slighted lady, ‘women’s problems’.

As I matured and developed into management, the game was still the same. NEVER question ‘women’s problems’, repeatedly having to tread on eggshells in an attempt to work out who of the 12 women that I worked with were, at which stage of the cycle and why that mattered. Don’t get me wrong, this was a professional organisation but let me ask you this. What would have happened if I had gone to HR and complained about sexual harassment? I think you know.

As senior manager and director the issues never went away completely it was just that the tactics changed. Women that stood too close, extended eye contact, the odd touch of a hand on my arm, whispered comments as I passed that I was supposed to hear but not supposed to hear. I have witnessed ‘power sex’ traps with fellow Directors, broken marriages from late working and gate-keeper secretaries.

My point is a relatively simple one. Sexism is not just in the workplace. If you are sexist, you are sexist. It’s that simple.

If you cannot see past the gender to relate to the person them self, you are sexist. If you set up groups that exclude one gender or the other, you are sexist. If you look for gender-based excuses for lack of promotion, look in the mirror first; how do you behave with the junior male trainee or the new manager or your line Director? Do you use your ‘women’s worldly wiles’ or rely upon your feminine charms? These are you using your gender energies and your gender assets to further your case, career or conversation. Do you make random, unqualified generalisations such as “it’s different for men” or “he can handle it” or “typical man, can’t multi-task’” or have you ever flirted or manipulated a situation with your feminine charms? If so, you are sexist.

There is undoubtedly an imbalance in the workplace when it comes to senior roles. There is also an imbalance in the number of sexual harassment cases. But I have seen cases and experienced events that were just as sexist and just as unfair and there is another point to consider here; just how many men feel that they can actually complain? The whole world of male ego turns against itself here.

I am not looking for sympathy, just recognition that it is a two-way street. I could cite further repugnant examples from Monica Lewinski to screaming hen parties. You may defend them, justify them even. That is up to you, the mirror and your conscience and for the record, mine is clear.

I came up with the idea of the 3rdi; my idea, my name, my vision. Karen has taken the magazine to people and places that I could not. Karen has met wonderful women and been involved in fantastic events, I have not. I have been asked to speak at one event in the five years that we have ran this magazine together. I stepped down from MD in order that the magazine, the cause, could develop. I have watched and listened from the background as we continue to address inequality and inequity in business and society. I have promoted women’s events, rights and causes without question and without reward. I will continue to do this with all the passion and focus that I have because fairness, balance and respect are key to my work and life and these values are NOT gender specific.

In essence, I walk my talk. Do you?

Fred Goodwin; a lesson in Responsibility or lack of it for us all?

We all know the latest today I am sure. The stripping of the honour presented to banking ex-head, Fred Goodwin.
I have heard such statements as “catalogues of failures”, “as CEO, he was and is responsible”, “direct cost to taxpayers and business”. Questions about integrity, responsibility and due process. Personal activities, such as tantrums if the biscuits weren’t pink, his jet and huge pension and clear disregard for his Board members do not suggest a responsible approach to his business. He may be a scapegoat but he IS clearly responsibile to a large degree for making lots of money for himself, misery for many investors and a huge influence in the financial crisis.

I have attached below the section on responsibility from An A-Z of Ethiconomics.

Responsibility and Referral (self)
Definition
• the ability or authority to act or decide on one’s own, without supervision

We are completely responsible for everything that we do. I accept that you may view this as a little contentious but I believe it to be true. We cannot always control the thoughts that we have. We cannot always manage our emotions effectively and how we feel has a strong correlation to how we think but, and it is a big but, we can and do control how we act; how we behave. You have both the ability and the authority to decide how you act (behave). It is in this context that I mean “self referral”. An example of this tendency towards denial of self responsibility is the growth in the litigious society; someone else is always to blame; it is always someone else’s fault. We are increasingly handing over responsibility for our actions (and lack of them) to others, be that other individuals, the state, corporate enterprise or some abstract sense of “religious” instruction and worse, blaming them for the outcome. Personal responsibility, it would seem, is a responsibility too far. Not so, say I.

“Whenever we seek to avoid the responsibility for our own behavior, we do so by attempting to give that responsibility to some other individual or organization or entity. But this means we then give away our power to that entity.”
M. Scott Peck

We are the result of the sum of all the decisions and actions that we have taken to this point in our life. It is nobody else’s fault. Nobody else should be blamed. Stop absolving yourself from being responsible for your own condition and take control of it. Once you accept a mind set of personal responsibility then you are in a position to change your life completely; keep looking outside for reasons and excuses and you can stay where you are forever.

Many great men and women, leaders and great minds, have recognized this for generations. It is our generation that is drifting into a dangerous pattern of external blame and lack of self referral. It is a dangerous path we tread. I am not suggesting that I am in some way perfect here, merely that I have recognized that responsibility for myself is critical to my own personal development.

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Once again, personal responsibility for our behaviour is solely and absolutely, ours.

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”
Jim Rohn

We set the standards for others to follow and by adopting a position of self responsibility and self referral we can develop our passion to live our lives to the full; to accomplish our dreams.

“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility in the realm of faith and morals.”
Albert Schweitzer

So what better time than now? It is a relatively simple task and requires nothing but a change of mind. The past is the past and we can learn from it but not be controlled by it. The future for us all is for our own creation so I simply urge that you be responsible for your own.

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”
George Bernard Shaw

Will we learn from this?
Will we, as individuals blame bankers when we ouselves spend beyond our own means?
Will we let business leaders be hung out to dry?
Will we be personally responsible and take this integrity into our business?

Diversity; vive la difference

Definition:
• the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness
• variety; multiformity

Diversity has become something of a business buzzword and as such has attracted attention, created policies and guidelines and even established organisations specialised in promoting its inherent virtues. At the highest level this is a little confusing because, if you simply take the definitions above at face value, then there is a simple truth. We are all different, none of us are exactly alike and variety is a simple truism.

So why the big issue and how does this affect you and your business?
To quote from the National Centre For Diversity:
“Diverse means different. We are all different, therefore diversity includes us all.”

“There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity”
Michel de Montaigne

Diversity in the workplace addresses the subject from the perspective that in a global marketplace, a company that employs a diverse workforce, meaning both sexes, multiple age groups, varied ethnic and racial groups and such like, is better able to consider the details, demands and demographics of the market, and is thus better equipped to succeed.
As a business person this makes consummate sense because if we are only employing one specific type of resource and addressing only one specific section of the community, then our chances for expansion and growth are inherently restricted. Typically, however, application of the principle has associated benefits and challenges.

Diversity is beneficial to both the organisation and its stakeholders (you, your customers, your shareholders, your community etc). It potentially allows for substantial benefits such as better decision making and improved problem solving by encouraging creativity and innovation. The variety of diverse inputs naturally creates a wider range of potential outputs and results. This is particularly relevant, but not exclusively so, when considering product development and marketing to different customers and market sectors.

By embracing diversity in an organisation you can:
• help link the variety of talents within the organisation
• allow for those employees with these talents to feel needed and have a sense of belonging, which in turn increases their commitment to the company and
• allow each of them to contribute in a unique way
• provide your company with the ability to understand and
compete in global markets.

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.”
Malcolm Forbes

Companies that embrace and utilise diversity have the potential to be more successful as long as there are appropriate and inclusive methods of communication within them. This becomes clear when we understand that people from different cultures, backgrounds, age groups and even personalities perceive messages in different ways. Poor communication within any environment has the potential to compound normal operational challenges, but in a diverse workplace it could present even greater challenges.

There are many challenges which face culturally diverse workplaces, and a major challenge is mis-communication within the organisation:

• native and non-native speakers are exposed to the same messages, but may interpret the information differently
• cultural and behavioural differences may require to be integrated and assimilated into the company

There is a final perspective on diversity that would like to consider; that of quality. When I worked in corporate world the company that I worked for prided itself on being “equal opportunity”. It stated that it recruited irrespective of race, creed, colour, gender. Inevitably, the numbers never quite stacked up. There was a reasonable representation of women in the workplace but mainly in administration, training and the canteen! There were only 3 female engineers and no senior management. After a few years away, I re-joined in a different division and the balance was a little more healthy with women in more sales and marketing roles, accounts and IT; only one in senior management. The “cultural” mix of the company in no way reflected the mix within our society but the “equal opportunity” message was still trumpeted from the towers of power. I have two observations that may well provide some justification, or at least explanation for this.

Firstly, equal opportunity means just that. I do not agree with forced equality. Quotas mask the issue. Recruitment and promotion to keep the numbers balanced is ill-advised and pointless. Ensuring that opportunity and development are available for all members of our community should be the duty and intent of every socially-focussed entrepreneur.
Secondly, it is about value, attitude and behaviour NOT gender, race or colour. One of my little quips in these times was that the company was in fact an equal opportunity employer but it had taken the principle one step too far – it recruited irrespective of ability too! Business has a social duty but it cannot support that duty effectively by employing staff to meet quotas to the detriment of the overall performance of the team and the business. We all have a personal responsibility to invest in and develop ourselves. If we are not genuinely good enough on take on a role with all the rigours and challenges then we should not get the job. Simple as that.

My view is that IF you are good enough, you are good enough, and if not, then no balancing of quotas (gender, race, ethnicity or whatever) should be allowed to corrupt or falsely achieve “balance”. As leaders and entrepreneurs we should ensure that the opportunities exist, that assessment is fair and that the support is available, other than that it’s up to you as an individual. Make sure that you are good enough. Make sure that you invest in yourself.

I am pro-diversity with a passion and I am ante-discrimination – positive or negative. Diversity is natural. Embrace it, use it, and benefit from it. Vive la difference!

How inequality harms societies.

A very interesting TED talk by Richard Wilkinson.

He displays that societies tend to compare their “wealth” relative to others within the same society and within those countries with the largets gaps between “rich” and “poor” do the lowest levels of well-being and satisfaction exist.
He also details the harm and detrimental effects that this can yield and that these harms have a very close correlation to values like trust and respect.
Very much woth a look.

Enjoy and comments please.

5 I’s to consider before you start your business

I have been coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs and SME businesses for some years now. I have met a huge range of motivated and talented individuals with ideas for their business enterprise that cross many business sectors. There are no hard and fixed rules regarding a business idea but there ARE elements that many budding entrepreneurs seem to overlook or dismiss before they start the road to success.

Invariably entrepreneurs have some idea of strategy regarding sales, customers and marketing. Many more have objectives in mind to measure and quantify progress and others have a clear mission statement” but I would like to offer 5 tips that I have found to be invaluable considerations BEFORE the detailed planning and activities commence.

I have taken these from my book, An A-Z Introduction to Ethiconomics and regularly both present these topics to audiences and introduce my coaching assignments with them; I would advice that you give them some thought too – whether you are about to start a new venture or are in the process of reviewing your current operation;

1. Intent
Your intention in performing an action is the originating purpose of actually doing it, the end result that is desired or intended to be. Intent is your purpose – the big “Why?”. Before you start any venture be sure tat your overall purpose is clear. Your intent will steer your reality.

2. Imagination
Many entrepreneurs are aware of methods and practices that they have learned over years of experience in other fields. Many more have practical skills and qualifications; others have great motivation and energy. Regularly, however, they have forgotten how to use, or trust, their imagination. Be imaginative, be creative.

3. Inspiration
Essentially, do what inspires you. If you are working in an environment or role that does not, then change it! If you cannot change it, change something about it to incorporate elements that inspire you. Inspiration will drive you on and sustain you through the tricky times.

4. Investment
Many business owners see investment as purely an activity to raise funds – it is not. Invest in you. Invest in your own development – personal and professional. You are probably the greatest asset in your business so it makes sense to continue to invest in that asset if you want ongoing and improved returns from it. Train, read, learn, develop – invest in your self.

5. Innovation
Innovation is not restricted to product or service. Innovation is the key to sustained success. The World is changing quickly and at increasing rates so being innovative across ALL your business activities will be increasingly essential. Remember the other “I’s” above and innovate – if you don’t then your competitors will!

Once your intent is clear and you are creating business plans that inspire you, using your imagination and invested skills (learning, experience, training, development) you will find that your focus and motivation are heightened – how can they NOT be?! And then all you have to do is to remember to regularly review to ensure that you are innovative and adding value to your clients – and of course, value to yourself and your business venture.

Before you start, before you plan, before you spend – remember these 5 I’s.

It’s not my fault . . .

The debacle and disgrace of the News of the World newspaper and, just as importantly News International and Rupert Murdoch, continues to rumble on despite Murdoch’s apparent apology. I say “apparent” because I do not think that I am alone in getting the impression that he does not actually mean it. The words came out but the sentiment behind them appeared conspicuous by its absence.

You could, of course, excuse the mogul if his expression of the apology failed to hit the mark because of his usual habit of avoiding interview (although it would seem that this discretion was invariably not offered to his victims!) compounded by the excessive publicity and pressure that is being exerted by his fellow media jackals. No “there but by the grace of God go I” from them – it is in for the kill and let’s make it as painful and public as possible! I do not allow him such excuse. With great power comes great responsibility Rupert.

There are 2 points that I would like to elaborate upon with respect to this circus but firstly I feel that it is worth noting that WE (well never me!) bought his rag. We were happy to read about the dirt dished and the injunctions “supered” and I do not accept that we all assumed that these exclusives and revelations were all uncovered by ethical and acceptable practices. The public gets what the public wants and we clearly voted “Yes” to the sleaze and bile that the NotW regularly presented. Mea culpa.

However, back to the mogul.
Why don’t we believe him?
Well, basically because his reputation dictates otherwise. His reputation (personally and professionally) does not lend itself to remorse, compassion and respect so it is somewhat churlish to expect to both to receive this in return and to expect the public to believe that there has been a massive disconnect between him and his staff and that this truly apologetic individual in now acting with authenticity and integrity. He may we have experienced an epiphany but . . . .well, what do you think?

When asked ‘are you not responsible as head of News Corp?’ – Rupert Murdoch said emphatically NO.

When asked ‘who is responsible?’ – this is what Rupert Murdoch said …. “The people I trusted to run it and maybe the people they trusted.”

Mmmm. Trust? Well, every business leader influences the culture, and inevitably the operational guidelines, process and policies, of his organisation. If he does not, why is he there? If he is guilty of trusting the wrong people then that raises other serious deficiencies but I am of the opinion that the “trust” defence is simply not tenable. He may as well have blamed the company toilet cleaner because there was not enough soap to wash his hands (well he is attempting to wash them now!) which distracted him from the main business of the day! He sets the culture. He sets the standard. He sets the policies and protocols. He should recruit, instruct, train, develop, measure and review ALL policy and operations as a matter of course – every other leader has to so why should he not? You establish a culture of integrity and trust and you get it back. Create a culture of “whatever it takes, whoever gets in the way” and that is what you get.
I am not in any way excusing the unprofessional, unethical, disgraceful, self-promoting, dis-respectful, intrusive behaviour of the minions that deployed these tactics at all but he recruited, trained, motivated, measured and paid them – he IS responsible for their conduct (if not every single action).

There may be one final hiding place for Murdoch’s soul. It may lie in the argument that he was acting in accordance with the greater culture of our times with his puerile apology? By this I mean the ambulance-chasing, someone-to-blame, get me lawyer mentality that seems to be pervading our own society. Well, in this case someone IS to blame. There IS a price to be paid. You are the person Mr Murdoch and you are only just beginning to pay the price.

Corporate responsibility, compliance, health and safety etc are all reflections of our growing tendency to avoid personal responsibility. Tough! Look in the mirror; the person looking back will guide your way and you will not get to authentic integrity and leadership by kidding yourself. You cannot kid a kidder (or the man in the mirror – no pun intended!)

Welcome to Ethiconomics

Welcome to Ethiconomics

Ethiconomics ™ is your complete guide to an improved, rewarding life leading to sustainable business relationships and personal fulfilment.

(ethik’ə nämiks) noun:

– a system of practices and personal values for ethical business in the global economy.

Current business practice has lead to virtual economic meltdown fuelled by corporate irresponsibility, non-accountability and a lack of moral values.

This must change; Ethiconomics™ is this change…

Ethiconomics ™ is your complete guide to an improved, sustainable life leading to rewarding business relationships and personal fulfilment.

How?  By showing you:

• that you CAN live and work with your authentic values

• that you CAN incorporate your own personal values into your working life

• that business MUST think beyond simple profits

• that you CAN change your work, family and community for the better.