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I asked a man what it’s like to be a woman in business

Half of my clients are women, the majority of people writing about gender equality are women and I wanted to ask some questions to my male business partner. Here goes:

What do you think it’s like to be a woman in business?

There is no doubt that there is a seam of misogynist attitude that runs through business – I, personally, don’t understand this as I have been in many environments where I have worked alongside, managed or been managed by highly skilled and very able women executives. Equally I’d argue that women can be their own worst enemies – I have experienced many women who, instead of being authentic, try to out male the men!

What do you think about when I say ‘Diversity & Inclusion’?

White middle class males feel as though they are being sidelined – some would argue ‘about time.’ I have had direct experience of three executives in the last year who failed to get a job as a result of diversity agendas. It would be interesting to develop a ‘merit’ agenda that isn’t skewed by either gender or other irrelevant factors (such as the old boy network)

What is so great about working with women?

The emotion, the unpredictability and, of course, the glamour of it all!!! But seriously: the women I have worked with and for have generally brought a different perspective to both strategic and tactical business decisions. Group dynamics can and often are positively influenced by putting women either into the mix or at the head of the table. Education, particularly around taking a broader view, should be encouraged at all levels – who are these narrowly focused men?? I have run an organisation and currently chair a board both having a majority of female participants – both the richer for it.

What would you like to learn from the women you work alongside?

I, personally, don’t see a gender divide and would aim to learn from whomever I work with.

As a father, what do you notice about the world of work your children are in from a diversity perspective?

My daughter is a qualified builder but had to ‘fight’ her way through college qualifications against the ‘male’ odds (awful behaviour). My sons are all on a more gender equal playing field that I was when I started work – does this make it more difficult? I’d argue ‘no’ it should be more interesting, challenging and, ultimately, a better and more rewarding work environment.

As your new female business partner, are you going to pay me the same amount that you pay yourself?

Yes. Why not?

So, I am now in business with a man who does not see a gender divide but who has seen inequality over diversity agendas and who has also seen women trying to “out male the men”. What does this tell me? It tells me to keep having these conversations, to keep on working with women on their agendas and in their way rather than trying to be something we are not. It also tells me to keep on talking to men about this. My male clients, sponsors, mentors & friends are all excellent role models for inclusive behaviour and equality. The more we talk about this, the more people will read it, hear it and live it.

About the author:

Rachel Halsall is an Executive Coach and Facilitator. Rachel has a direct and punchy coaching style which has served her well working with senior leaders & teams across sectors. The majority of Rachel’s work focusses on communication, career transition and enhancing management skills. She speaks regularly to groups on networking skills as well as how to communicate succinctly and raise your profile.

Rachel is an ICF accredited coach. She is certified in Myers-Briggs Step I and has a Certificate in Systemic Team Coaching from the Academy of Executive Coaching.