IS THE WORKPLACE HIS OR HERS?
We attend the same meetings, tackle the same projects, have the same business network and strive for the same outcomes. So why are men and women treated differently in the workplace? I’m not about to jump on the bandwagon of the gender pay gap — that’s a whole other article! Don’t get me wrong, it amazes me that women make up 46% of the Australian workforce and are paid 15% less than our male counterparts, however it is going to be a slow burn to change. Instead, I want to talk about my own experience as a female business owner and some of the stereotypes strong women face in society. After the birth of my second child eighteen months ago, I consolidated the business and for 12 months I went into ‘hibernation’ (which is code for nappies, lack of sleep and tantrums). I made the strategic decision to condense our workload, only managing our current client base but not actively marketing to new clients. Since coming back to work, 2018 has been our year. We have re-branded, invested in new staff, moved into a new office and we are kicking goals with some amazing new clients. #winning But I recently attended an evening meeting (and for full transparency it did involve alcohol — often the best meetings); the room was a mix of males and females, and we started talking business. So, the wine was flowing, and the spotlight turned to my business, and a great male friend of mine made a throw away comment: “Lauren — you are aggressive in your approach”. Now there was absolutely no malice intended, no offence taken, and the wine kept flowing (a slight headache the next day). However, in the days following I started thinking, if I was a male would my approach still be misinterpreted as aggressive? Or, would I be a successful businessman? A visionary? A male business leader just getting the job done? Let’s face it, ‘aggressive’ isn’t exactly a flattering term for a female and while I am proud of our success I am also conscious of our perception in the marketplace. ‘Aggressive’ isn’t one of our approved marketing buzz words we associate with our business. It has me asking the question, will we ever see equality in the workplace? Equal rights (like the pay gap) are not enough to justify reaching ‘equality’. This inequality is something that we inherited from the world around us, and it exists in our minds in the form of stereotypes, bias and prejudice — and that is what needs to be fixed.