Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Solving Sexism the Chameleon’s Way

I was inspired by the insightful comments you all had on Monday’s post.   My company is considered small by Corporate America standards, so I’m not bombarded with big company BS and internal politics on a daily basis.  Regardless, I agree with most of your comments…sexism (as well as other “isms”) is still an ongoing battle in the workplace.

We have a saying at my office….

Don’t come to me with a problem.  Come with a problem and a suggested solution.

I like that saying and adopted it from (gasp) a bully of a man.  Regardless, it works to get collaboration going on problem-solving. 

So, what are we going to do about this battle of the sexes?  Here are my suggested solutions:

Solution #1.  Revenge!  Let’s put out a worldwide call to female executives.  From this point forward, they may only hire assistants with these qualifications…


My apologies to the guys…us girls needed needed a little visual pick-me-up.

Solution #2.  Throw in the Towel.  All the men can work, contribute 75% of their incomes into a new government-run program called “Feed and Pamper the Women” and all the ladies will sit back at the expensive spas, hire man-servants to clean our houses and watch our kids, and….errrr……no.  Next.

Solution #3.  Be a Chameleon.  Let’s face it. Men and women are different creatures.  Physically, the differences are obvious.  More importantly, the way we show ourselves to the world is different.  From early childhood, stereotypical ways of acting are reinforced in boys and girls. 

Girls – be polite, speak softly, don’t fight.

Boys – toughen up, get in the game, don’t cry.

When these stereotypical ways of projecting ourselves are brought into a competitive environment (workplace, politics, buying a car, negotiating a deal…whatever), who do you think is going to play that game better?

To be viewed with absolute equality in the workplace, I think women need to Chameleon and better adapt to the environmentWe need to project more confidence, speak louder, be more assertive, and act like leaders.  And while doing this, not completely check our femininity at the door.  Books

The Brown Paper Bag Girl expressed it well in her comment “…a significant aspect of equality is women believing and acting like they are equal. After all, you get what you put out there.”

Being chameleon-like doesn’t always come easy.  My bookshelf is filled with books like these…because we’re all in this together.


What other suggestions do you have to bring more equality to the sexes?

We’re moving on to a different topic on Monday.  Be sure to check back! 

If you liked this post, you may also like Lookism.


 About  six hours ago I was getting ready to head into Business Land to give a public presentation.  I understand that public speaking terrifies some people.  It doesn’t scare me, but I’ll admit that I feel more confident when:

  1. I’m well-prepared on the material; and
  2. I think I look good.

#2 may sound silly.  Regardless, my confidence level always feels stronger when I believe that I look good.

Today there was a slight problem with #2.  My hair was an absolute wreck.  Ya see, my hairdresser had shoulder surgery last month.  Need I say more?  Who knew that she’d be gone for months!  So, my locks are much longer than I like and require much more time to deal with. 

I spent the early part of today working from home.  After lunch I took a quick shower.  Then, I got sucked into a 2-hour conference call.  During which my hair dried.  My two-months too long hair.  On its own. 

Illustration (c) Jenny Solomon

Using a blow dryer while placing important conference calls on mute not advised.  No one wants to hear Warrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr when you accidentally hit unmute while trying to hold the phone and your curling brush in the same hand.  “Oops; sorry about that Mr. Businessmen.  I was drying my hair.”  With my luck, that would happen.  Trust me – it really would.

When the call ended I had less than 10 minutes to finish getting ready.  No time to deal with a bad hair moment.  So, up it went with one quick mirror check in the car.  Not bad, huh?


Is looking good worth the effort?

Yesterday’s newspaper said YES.  The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that a new book by Princeton University Press will be released next spring called “Beauty Pays.”  It links physical attractiveness and income earnings.  I usually don’t read the daily paper, but this article caught my eye.  To quote the article:

After adjusting for all the other factors that can affect earnings . . . women in the bottom third of looks are paid about 4 percent less than average-looking employees, and men in that group are paid 13 percent less.

If we accept that these findings are accurate, the questions then become — does it matter, and should we do anything about it?

Okay, so….with all the issues that are out there to deal with…now we have to combat Lookism?  The concept that unattractive people are discriminated against. 

This goes beyond dressing appropriately and presenting yourself positively.  It’s about natural beauty.   I personally think that attaching the word discrimination to general attractiveness is going a little too far.  I’ve been in business a long time and have had business relationships with people of many different levels of physical attractiveness.  I don’t recall ever relating their natural-born appearance with their business ability or success.  So, I suppose that I’m not a Look-ism-ist when it comes to business.

However, I have passed judgement based on dress and grooming.  I once interacted with a colleague who wore leggings to a professional meeting.  Public service announcement: leggings are not pants.  I judged.  I didn’t take her work seriously.  All because of the leggings. 

What do you think about Lookism?  Does it exist?  

If you haven’t already entered this week’s giveaway, enter a comment on this post.  The winner will be selected at random and announced on Friday.  Good luck!

Negotiating in Business-Land

The Boss-E side of my personality is making a major appearance this week.  I’m in Southern California at my corporate office for meeting after meeting after meeting.  Actually, I’m typing this on the airplane….wishing the mild gut-wrenching turbulence would stop.  For my own safety and the safety of those around me, I better remain seated.  After all, I don’t want to spill this plastic cup of Minute Maid on the nice man beside me, causing widespread panic like Snakes on a Plane. 

For most of the week, my company will be updating its Business Plan and Business Model.

  • Business Model = spreadsheet that shows a company’s budget and cash flow.
  • Business Plan =  how a company operates in its field (marketing, staffing, production, sales, etc.).

For my entire career, I’ve always been at the negotiating table with men.  I’ve worked hard to get where I am, but I still think they need me there to balance out the testosterone levels.  All I can say is, it’s been both interesting and frustrating. 

If most women are like me, we simply don’t approach negotiations the same way.  For men, it’s a battle to be won…against the economy…against the competition…against the forces of nature.  If my business partner shows up to the meeting tomorrow in a suit of armor, I wouldn’t be surprised.  Women, on the other hand, don’t come bearing armor.  Plus, it’s not very fashionable in this century.

If you think about it, a lot of situations require negotiation…

Man:  I want barbecue ribs for dinner.

Wife:  I’d rather have baked chicken.  I have a new dress on today and ribs are too messy.

Man:  I said I want ribs.

Wife:  Well, I said I don’t.

Man:  Then I guess you won’t be eating, because I’m making the damn ribs.

A lump forms in your throat.  Tears well up behind your eyes.  Your man doesn’t care about you or your new Ann Taylor halter-dress.  He didn’t even notice that you spent half the day doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen.  Your face feels hot.  You can’t hold it back…and….

Wife:  Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Man:  Okay, we’ll have the chicken.

The thing about us girls is that it’s hard for us to take the sappy emotion out of an argument or heated negotiation.  We want peace.   We want to find the middle-ground.  The guys can get in each others’ faces, name-call, and still be best buds when it’s  all said and done.  I can’t even imagine crying at a business meeting, but it’s still hard for me to be an emotionless shell just because I’m in a conference room talking arguing about budgets.  Come to think of it, maybe the armor would help.  At least no one would see my mascara running behind the face shield.

How do you react when your opinion is challenged?  Are you are good negotiator?