Tag Archives: Win Like a Woman

Is Business Becoming a Woman’s World?

Here is a simple fact that we can all agree on — women have not always had an easy path moving up in a man’s world.  I remember the time that I was a guest for lunch in the Los Angeles Club (this was a few decades ago).  I was told to go up the stairs to the dining room, which I did. The dining room was small, and there were a few couples scattered around.  After a few minutes, I asked the host about meeting my party, and he informed me “that would be in the main dining room, up one more slight of stairs.”  So up I went, and discovered a huge dining room — filled with nothing but men.  Not a woman in sight.  Imagine being a woman competing in that climate!

But times, they are a changing.  Our audiences at the First Friday Book Synopsis are truly a mix of men and women.  (We do have a few other barriers to overcome — we’re not as diverse as we could be).  But women, at our event, and in all areas of business, present a clear and growing force.

Recently, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of Womenomics, wrote of this change in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Fixing the Economy? It’s Women’s Work. They wrote:

While the pinstripe crowd fixates on troubled assets, a stalled stimulus and mortgage remedies, it turns out that a more sure-fire financial fix is within our grasp — and has been for years. New research says a healthy dose of estrogen may be the key not only to our fiscal recovery, but also to economic strength worldwide.

And:  The numbers make a compelling case. The studies Ernst & Young rounded up show that women can make the difference between economic success and failure in the developing world, between good and bad decision-making in the industrialized world, and between profit and loss in the corporate world. Their conclusion: American companies would do well with more senior women.

Their point is not that women should get a fair shake, a true shot at actual equality (though they should).  Their point is something far more profound — things would be better, problems could actually be solved, the future could be brighter if women were allowed to speak their voices at the problem-solving tables of the world.

I have a hunch they are right.

Over the years, we have presented synopses of a number of excellent books at the First Friday Book Synopsis focused on women and business issues:  Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know About Success That Women Need to Learn by Gail Evans;  Women Don’t Ask:  Negotiation and the Gender Divide and Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want, both by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever; How She Does It: How Women Entrepreneurs Are Changing the Rules of Business Success by Margaret Heffernan; The Mary Kay Way: Timeless Principles from America’s Greatest Woman Entrepreneur by Mary Kay Ash, among others.  With our fellow bloggers Cheryl Jensen and Sare Smith, I will speak at our first (hopefully) of many events  focused on women and business.  (Read about the August 12 event here).

This I know.  Trying to solve problems, trying to succeed in business with men only is wrong, foolish, and under-resourced.  The future may not belong to women alone , but it certainly belongs to women and men equally, and together.

(Yes, we will be presenting a synopsis of Womenomics this fall at the First Friday Book Synopsis).

{To purchase our synopses of the books mentioneed above, and many other business books, with handout + audio, go to our 15 Minute Business Book site}.

What is the future?

The differences between men and women in business are amazing, complex, and sometimes predictable.  Cheryl and Sara are going to spend some blog-space exploring how men and women manage to speak directly with one another and still not communicate!

 Sara’s view:   For her, the future includes everything…no really, EVERYTHING. It can be the next fifty years.   For him, the future can be next month.  Here is a little background.  When we were on the playground, as children, the girls would play complex games of life that would span from one “recess” to the next.  The boys would play a game that ended with the bell.  The next game would begin the next time they were released to play.  Two difference perspectives on “future” were developing.  These ideas are courtesy of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Women by Gail Evans.

 The children on the playground grow up and now meet in the boardroom where the discussion is about the life of a product.  She’s thinking about the implications for every other product in the company, the R&D and manufacturing teams, and the consumer (to name only a few considerations). He is considering the P&L, market share percentages, and when the competitive pressure might be great enough to dump the product and move on.   Disconnect?  Yes.  Result?

 Cheryl’s view: Some traditional wisdom states “Timing is everything.”  In this case, it just might be. What will likely happen next is these parties will translate their thoughts into conversation. With such differences in perspectives, one could almost predict the inevitable conflict. What Fred Kofman states in  Conscious Business is “Each individual enjoys property rights over his or her opinions. The problem is that we take our opinions to be more than simply our view of the world; we think of them as an accurate description of the world.”  Our gender differences certainly are a powerful force in forming our opinions, and thus our view of the world.

 As the conversation progresses, the outcome is almost predictable.  She will likely see him as “short sighted, greedy, and unconcerned with the long term impact.” He might see her as “soft and too people focused, looking at aspects no one could control, and clueless on how to win.” Oh good, the result is now playing the Blame Game! And with that game come the reinforcement of well honed gender biases.   Hofman suggests that “Each party is entitled to their opinion, and nobody has the right to claim ownership of the truth.” Unfortunately, based on their gender specific experiences, each believes their view is the truth.  Checkmate.