Dear Mr. Corporate Executive, Mr. Civic Leader, Mr. All and Powerful Oz,
I know that you have reached the great heights in your company and are a stalwart pinnacle of success due to your innate intelligence and savvy strategic sense. Yes, perhaps you had a decade head start over me, but it still does not explain the wide gap you seem to think exists between you and me. It’s a gap that you find an odd need to fill through the type of paternalism I naively thought was dead.
You see, I too, am a successful executive. Oh, yes, and I serve on many of the same boards that you do, and I think my level of smarts and savvy at least equal yours. But when I enter the board room, I am still a gender minority. Sometimes, you think I should pour your water or fetch your coffee. That may have been entertaining in a “Mad Men” episode, but it is not entertaining today.
You never ask me for my opinion, but you interrupt everyone and anyone to get your brilliant point of view on the table. With all that testosterone at the table, it is a bloody miracle that anything gets accomplished. You interpret my quietness as an attribute or adjective: interpreted in your male brain as weakness or a female being demure or coy. You fail to see that I am listening, I am thinking, and I am reflecting. I do not have the need to be the loudest voice in the room, but often, I will voice the point of view that your straight line strategy missed.
And it is an important perspective for you to pay attention to. I hate to remind you that today, American women represent the majority in this country, with 51% having that X chromosome. Straight line, point A to point B strategies don’t always work for them. No wonder you are missing your targets. And if you haven’t looked over your shoulder recently, the number of college graduates are predominately women (57% female to 43% male), yet those in power are still predominately male with an earning potential 40% higher than their female counterparts. If you want to raise your voice, how about dealing with that inequity? After all, it's good business. You want the brightest, most savvy work force, with a high degree of loyalty to help shepherd the growing female majority to post record profits. If a moral argument doesn’t work, the money argument always wins.
Yes, I know, this is business as usual, but I have learned from you quite astutely. I interrupt you, because that is the protocol you respond to. I have even learned to pound the table to make my point, because in some really screwed-up way, that gains me respect in your eyes. I make my point backed with statistics, and if I have to bat an eyelash or two to make you pay attention, then so be it. Math is in my favor. It won’t be long before the incredibly talented work force you have to choose from will be predominately female. That is, unless you opt to import the Y chromosomes from other countries, since they don’t have the same land of opportunity that exists in the United States. Yes, I have quietly followed that strategy, too. The long tail of that approach isn’t too promising. You think dealing with a growing female population is confusing, I should point out that a multi-cultural population insists on a circular line of reasoning. Your straight line system will send you on a fast track to obscurity. I am so glad I have perfected my circular approach. There is nothing like job security.
So, thank you for allowing me entry into your private club. I no longer have to ask for directions to the women’s washroom that was located in the basement. And as you turn to me to give me unsolicited advice, don’t mistake my quietness for listening, thinking, and reflection. In fact, I’m planning my next move. Thank you for teaching me that tactic. I wish I could teach you a thing or two, but you never ask. And I don’t give advice, unless solicited.
Ms. Executive, Ms. Civic Participant, Ms. Glenda the Good Witch