Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sexism in life/business and recruitment advertising

Going a bit off piste today but prompted by a great supplier and friend of the business not getting a job she quite clearly merited. Also this comes from a perspective as a father of 3 girls (and 1 boy) who i want to have dazzling careers as prime minister, rock star and curer of cancer (that's just the eldest one).

Here are the subtle reasons why business/career progression is sexist and in this diatribe i will ignore sexist twats or organisations (these will always exist so just avoid if at all possible) - 

1. Women actually have the babies - I told you it was subtle. In my mildly successful corporate career, i bumped along with a couple of promotions and reached Deputy/Assistant to Head of Regional Sales (or similar middle mgmt plateau) I worked in a business that was pretty much 50/50 women and men. and my competition for progression  and bosses were a lot of bright talented women. Guess what - my competition/bosses started disappearing to have babies, spending a year out, coming back part time. Suddenly within a year i got 2 step ups and my dream job (a bad dream i soon learnt). So when you are around 30ish in media - an averagely talented man can progress at a faster rate than a super talented mother.

Solution to this....i have no idea. I do know that life for a career oriented woman who wants to be a great parent is infinitely more conflicted and imperfect than for most dads.

2. Attitude to hands on Dads and hands on Mums. I have the great fortune to run my own business and this gives me a certain freedom so i have always picked up my eldest from school at least 1 day a week, and try to attend as many guitar concerts/nativity/cheerleading shows etc as possible. (ooh... aren't i great!). So i have left plenty of meetings early and stated i have to pick up my girls. The reaction to that tends to be overwhelmingly positive and unstated thoughts that its good to see a father being so hands on, how very modern (yes much of this may be just in my head). But my female friends tell me when they have to do similar exits, blow outs of meetings due to child sickness etc that there is a similar unstated thought process from bosses/clients. That thought process is "she does not take her career seriously enough" "she is not disappearing off again, is she..." "can't have someone who is not 100% committed for the big job".

Solution to this....i have no idea. Maybe another 1000 years of evolution

3. Seeing into the future. Probably the biggest handicap is the interviewer or boss or organisation looking ahead and anticipating all the factors above and not even giving people the chance. Now we know that is immoral/illegal but you can bet your arse it happens. Looking at 30 year newly married woman and thinking "well this is bound to happen..." instead "i will give the job to the 30 year old bloke who reminds me a bit of me"

Solution - another 1000 years

So - all problems - no solutions...reminds me of the meeting i had last week.


Anonymous said...
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domsumners said...

flexible working has to be part of the solution i agree and there is a definitely a move away from 9-5 time served in office for all roles. But attitudes take a long time to change and this is key.

domsumners said...

And I need to state for full disclosure that though 50% of OME staff are female - the business is owned and managed by 2 men who are 40+. So i need to make sure as the business grows and we develop our people that i practice and not just preach.