In the past, my anger made me powerful and resilient – and I figured out it also made my blind and stupid at times. Often, actually, even if I don’t like to admit it. And there would be a lot more to write about emotions and how we choose how we use our emotions as information. But, today, there’s something else that wants to be written. And I feel more like screaming it.
The tears I cry are tears of rage about the fact that still in 2019, opportunities are not equal for women in the corporate world!
I have this absolutely wonderful, smart, talented and strong client who I had the privilege to accompany on a journey of deep personal transformation. I have also come to know her as an amazingly resilient and wise professional. She had been invited an assessment centre to find out if she is ready for promotion and just told me about her result…
It sounds like what I have heard a few times myself and witnessed many more: “you have all the skills we expect from an executive, you’re authentic, inspiring, creative – but you’re not hard-nosed enough!”.
The pattern is always the same, we are OK to train social skills to the hard-nosed and not ready to give a chance to those with high emotional and social intelligence to try themselves on tougher jobs or in tougher environments. The second category are very often women…
And my client? She says that if she one day becomes hard-nosed and numb, it’s time to do something different. What I want to say to her? This organization does not even deserve you! You are brilliant, you are resilient and strong to a degree many hard-nosed managers can only dream of! But why do these brilliant women need to leave organizations to be recognized?
Sometimes, some of them are lucky enough (like I have been) that there is someone in the organization who, against the common practice, promotes them and they get a chance to prove themselves. These bosses and mentors have the courage to work against collective unconscious biases. They are ready to be vulnerable and they act as true people leaders. Thank you, male and female role models!
And so, why do I choose anger today? I choose anger, because it still is great fuel… Fuel to not let things be, fuel to start a movement of change. And this anger is different from before. It does not make me blind, it makes me attentive and resilient.
And I also cry tears of sadness that we are still in a place where we think of women when we talk about diversity. In a time and age when women are as well (if not better) educated, we have still not collectively understood that we need all hands on deck and can’t afford to exclude 50% of mankind from finding solutions for the burning problems of this planet.
And to my client, I say – you are amazingly strong! Don’t give up and find a gang of likeminded humans that accompany you on your path. I’ll love to be a part of it!
Simon Preston says
I enjoyed reading this and trying to support two daughters into their professional lives and having a professional wife of 30 years – what you observe is still stuck in many work cultures yet increasingly less so. We will be better societies when this balance improves and today in western Europe may surely be the best time ever to be a woman yet probably also a man too…because my life has been enriched through being on a bumpy journey of equality with my wife and even now my RISE colleagues….
Thank you Simon! What you created with RISE is an example of how we can work together differently when we are ready to question every day our assumptions. And also, in our work with clients we help them uncover and challenge their unconscious biases so that we contribute to slowly changing this world. I’m grateful to have found my tribe in RISE and grateful for men like you – and my husband.
Julie Hutchison says
Great post Miriam. I still feel sick sometimes when I see old cultures that haven’t changed into the “real world” . So frustrating.