Reflecting on one “Values Deficiency” of the Ol’ Boys Network – (And Why We Need a “New Women’s Network”)

Do you know why they call it the “ol’ boys network?”  Because it’s filled with men who never quite grew up, and they like their clubhouse to still be a very exclusive club.

So, if you’re not part of their group, play by their rules, see the world their way, you can’t break in to the ol’ boys club.  Whether you are male or female.

And, in spite of the incredible increase in the numbers of women, holding the larger number of all levels of college degrees, and getting hired in law firms and orchestras and companies and everywhere else, it seems, it is still an ol’ boys world that can’t quite make the right kind of room for these “outsiders.”

There’s a scene in Moneyball where Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is trying to make a dent in the ol’ boys network.  It is not an easy task.   Watch (trouble viewing the video? – click here):

I thought of all this as I revisited the terrific book by Margaret Heffernan, How She Does It:  How Women Entrepreneurs are Changing the Rules of Business Success.  Here’s a key excerpt:

What motivated them (entrepreneurial women) after they had started was strikingly uniform: They were all driven to succeed for their workforce. (emphasis added). They may have started for themselves, but they kept going for others.
This has profound implications for the businesses women run and the way they run them. The bond between looking after the business and looking after the people is not rhetoric, and nurturing isn’t weakness; it is what explains their success. When you feel such passionate affinity with, and responsibility for, your employees, then you put values, ethics, and culture squarely at the center of every decision you make. If that sounds a bit too much like social work, it is worth remembering that these companies are highly lucrative.

“Driven to succeed for their workforce…”  In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg speaks of the power of “keystone habits,” organizational habits that shape the entire organizational culture.  I think the evidence continues to build that we have put the pursuit of profits, and other such values, above the value of “nurturing the members of your workforce.”  And I think we need some kind of major refocus, a “reset,” with a new set of keystone habits to put nurturing the members of our workforces front and center.

And when we do, values just might be rediscovered.  Because if you value something other than people, I’m not sure it’s a very valuable value.

Values matter now, says Gary Hamel.  Nurturing the members of your workforce is a value that comes out clearly in women-owned businesses.  Maybe we all need to help such women break right on through and past all those “ol’ boys clubs.”  I’m not sure we will be able to value the right values with the “ol’ boys” always in charge.  Maybe we really do need more “new women’s networks” to counteract the narrow, values-deficient nature, of all those “ol’ boys clubs.”

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