All Men: When to Challenge

The board room has an attorney, a facility manager, an office systems business owner, a banker, a pharmacist, a trucker, a retiree and me.  They are brilliant leaders in our community and they are in the dark when it comes to digital media.  I love serving on this board and I love that my background is so diverse from theirs – that I am younger than them, and that I am the “girl” in the room.  One thing that sometimes tickles me is that my ideas are often times completely foreign and outlandish to them, not because I am trying to be different but because my lens is just different. It sometimes leads to some ridicule and comments like, “Yeah, hey Randy – go ahead and twit that out would you?”

What I continue to see in a variety of settings is that I am still the “different” one.  What I want you to think about is – when is that okay?  When should you challenge it?

Here is another scenario.  The Summit room is full over about 180 people, about 90% women.  Everyone is excited to be inspired, ready to hear from our peers and others over the next two days. The inspirational marketing guy, the founder of the company guy, the intellectual capital guy, the operational guy, the Doctor guy, and the crucial conversation guy.  They were all good. But, Where were the women?

Women had roles of introducing the speaker, giving logistical transitional instructions, but they were not given the stage as a leader or change maker. Hmm, I thought. This is not an okay kind of “different.”

Two scenarios where I share a vision and value the expertise of brilliant men, and one scenario is okay – one of them is not.  In my opinion, our board room is diverse and I am one of the voices who has an equal vote on every vote.  It just so happens that I am the only female; I am the youngest; and I have equally weighted voice and opinion, this scenario seems fair and fine.

The Summit scenario is not fine. It portrays an image of men will be the thought leaders, women will execute ( at much lower salaries of course). Men will have the stage, hold the honors, etc.  In this particular room where 90% of the corporate culture is female led and driven, there should be appropriate representation at the top. #noexcuses

So how do address this? How do you handle this when all of your employees question this? I believe you make the observation known in reviews or post event surveys. You discuss with a direct supervisor or HR person. Then you wait. Wait to see how the company responds. You may get an, oh well crap, I didn’t know that would be seen in that way…. OR you may get fired, noooo, just kidding!

But all joking aside, you need to understand the chain of command and how to properly report your observations without being a jerk and without compromising your current job.

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