I read another one of those articles on a post from the Harvard Business Review stating that women often don’t get what they want or deserve because they don’t ask for it. Does anyone else feel like me after I read these types of articles – here’s another thing I’m doing wrong. Here’s another article that makes it sound like women aren’t cut out for the business world.
But who decides what is and isn’t right?
I read all this stuff about what I am supposed to do and get the impression that when I go to work I am supposed to be all about Me. Me, Me, Me, Me, Me. But those aren’t my values – being all about Me, isn’t Me.
Many years ago I found a poster that reflected my values:
Service Before Self
Excellence in all We Do
Integrity – I do what is right. I may be standing up there alone, on my soap box, while stones are being thrown, but, I don’t care. I will stand up and fight for what is right for myself, my family, my co-workers, my workplace and my community. I will not abandon what is right. To me, there is no greater value.
Service Before Self – Every woman understands this. This is why we are humble. This is why we believe in teamwork. This is why we don’t promote ourselves. And yes, there is a consequence that I may not make as much money as my most boastful coworker, but there is a line I don’t want to cross – I don’t want to be him, I don’t respect his self-promotion. I can accept making a little less money if it means this value stays at the core of my soul. This value is not for sale!
Excellence in All We Do – I want the team of people I work with to be proud of who they are and what we accomplish. There is something powerful that happens inside us when we strive to do our best – we believe that anything is possible.
I am proud of my values so I prominently hang that poster in my office, every place I work. I found I learn a lot about the culture of a company by the reaction my co-workers have to it.
When I worked with a company who built military family housing the reaction was “Cool” or “Like that poster!” Everyone commented positively on it, they wanted a copy. They understood the values, they lived the values. I wanted to work there forever.
But the company decided to get out of the military family housing construction market and started changing personnel. No one commented on the poster any more. These weren’t their values.
When I worked for one of the top national home-builders, my co-workers looked at the poster, wrinkled up their faces as if to say “WTF!” and looked at me as if I was an alien. Is that a surprise?! This is the industry that helped create the Great Recession. My values didn’t fit into this industry and we all paid the price.
Is it possible that the characteristics we are told to emulate in order to get ahead in the workplace are just a little more than a bit off?
Do we really have to give up our values and working towards a common good in order to get ahead?
My answer to that is “Absolutely Not!”
I always stand up for what is right.
I’ve been the woman in the room with 20 men trying to decide on a course of action. Someone suggests something that is a bit unethical or in the very least not nice. Everyone knows it’s wrong but no one says anything – except me. I bring up how the idea can be perceived as wrong. Then I ask “Is that what we really want to do?”
In other words, I am asking the men to raise their hand and say “Yes, I want to do something I know is wrong!”
Of course no one does. The idea goes away.
And after the meeting someone always thanks me for standing up for what is right.
The reason this works is because men want to avoid Blame for doing something wrong. To men Blame is about the worst thing that can happen to them in the workplace. If we can help them avoid Blame, they accept our help.
Even though it may be politically incorrect to say so, men want to look good in the eyes of women. They want us to respect them. So if we squash an idea for not being right, men generally go along with it. They accept us as their moral compass.
The vast majority of our male colleagues are good men who want to do what is right. They just have a hard time doing it sometimes because of the dynamics of the Blue Zone. When we stand up and exercise our values, we help move our workplace to the Purple Zone.
Empowered women know their values.
They use their natural strength and determination to stand up for what is right.
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