We’ve Come a Long Way…or have we - September 30, 2011
Since declaring I was going to write a book focused on helping the Millennials prepare for the leadership challenges ahead I have been reaching out to my network to get their perspectives, interviewing thought leaders and being genuinely curious about the cultures in many different organizations and agencies.
What are the organizations the Millies are attracted to?
What type of organization will likely keep them satisfied, challenged and growing?
How much have things changed since I was a twenty/thirty something making my way up the corporate ladder?
What norms of my era are now extinct or should be?
I have declared my passion for and commitment to the development of Millennial talent, and I am also committed to learning about and investing in developing young women and girls. I recently joined the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the American Association of University Women. I want to learn more about what challenges young women face, since I have an almost 19 year old college sophomore and an almost 5 year old pre-school daughters, I want their experience to be even better than what I experienced, which was even better than what my mom experienced.
I am incredibly blessed with a large circle of very accomplished men and women in my life right now. And I recently have been meeting with some of those women and we have been reflecting on ‘the good ole days.’ And what we are finding is they weren’t always all that good.
Sexual harassment, although we did not call it that then, was pretty prevalent. You had to ‘be one of the guys’ and fit in with the sexual innuendos if you wanted to be considered for the club. I admit in my early twenties I played into some of the banter, and much of it was seemingly harmless. You had to look the other way at those sales meetings when the guys would all head off to the strip joints after long days of business. A few of the guys stayed behind, but even some of them felt the pressure if the head boss was springing for cocktails and ummm, dances.
I recall my share of lower pay for equal work, being told I had to wear a dress and a suit to a meeting where my male counter parts could wear a golf shirt, that I shouldn’t worry my pretty little head about all that budget nonsense.
Oh I could go on with what was commonplace. I remember being with a group of my male peers about 5:30 in the evening, and I was the senior person there. The big boss came up to the group and looked at me and asked if I could fax something for him. Me and my big mouth I said, “funny you picked me, John knows how to use the fax machine too!” I always had a pretty passionate way of expressing myself, so I had no problems telling some people what was not appropriate, especially the pinching, grabbing and touching.
I actually recall slapping one manager across the face when I was about 30 years old. I was worried I was going to lose my job, but apparently he was drunk and didn’t remember. Over the years with the enforcement of anti-harassment and discrimination laws in place, it seems to have gotten better.
The women in the workforce today do NOT need to tolerate that and even when it is in “good fun” not everyone thinks it’s fun. I welcome any thoughts about what is actually happening out there.
Let’s get the work done, have some fun, but keep it respectful!