IS THE WORK­PLACE HIS OR HERS?

Style Magazine - - Fashion -

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.

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