Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Baffled By The White Man
Being in the marketing and product development profession I spend a lot of time visiting company websites, reading over their mission statements, strategies and checking out their product offerings. I know the blood, sweat and tears that goes into launching a new product or brand and find it inspiring to keep in touch with what other people/companies are doing. One thing that blows my mind over and over again is the mystery of the middle aged white man.
Time and time again I look at the "executive team" or "leadership team" section on these sites and time and time again I see the same faces over and over again. It could be a car part company, a jewelry company, cleaning products, tampons, greeting cards doesn't seem to matter! The board consists of middle age white men, sprinkled with a token woman HR Director or Director General Council Secretary.
What happened to breaking through the "glass ceiling"? Does that end at middle management? Companies have their diversity statements, their equal opportunity employer disclosure, but what does that really mean? Is it all for show? Being a woman who has worked in the corporate world for ten years now I often find myself very discouraged. I see men come into meetings and throw their d*ck on the table. I witness others swoon over this barbaric behavior. I've seen men talk down to women simply because their management styles are different and the ego believes his is the best. I see others shake their heads an nod at the ego's ideas and strategies feeding it even more, then walk out of a meeting and say "what a load of crap, this is how we are going to get this done!" So, why do we, as women, continue to play this game?
I can only assume it's the fear. I myself live and experience it daily. If I speak my mind will I become a target? If I offer advice based on years of experience will it be taken the wrong way? If I stand my ground will I be considered insubordinate? Why is it that when a man displays these characteristics he is seen as a leader, a go getter, great potential? I've yet to understand this old school mentality myself.
All I can hope is that as some of these "old schoolers" head off to their homes in Florida while collecting their pensions, that I will never see, things start to change. They say we've broken through the glass ceiling, but I think we still have a long ways to go.
(I'd like to thank Mr.Forsee CEO of SprintNextel for allowing me to use his image for this post)