The Dharma of the mixed workforce
If women are so good why do they need extra support in the work place?
Basically because the workplace was designed for men and why wouldn't that be so?
Culturally we expect men to take the lead when it comes to getting out there and making their mark on the world. Whether it's in a war or prevailing in an organisation, they are programmed to protect and defend. The smart men realise that they need the willing co-operation of women to be able to do this and many are quite happy to actively encourage them to get out there and play an active role alongside their male colleagues. The smart women also realise co-operation is essential but both men and women often don't quite get how proactive they need to be to challenge the traditional stereotypes that are inevitably, out of date.
Things are changing. More men are recognising the importance of spending time with their children while they are young and by the same token, more women consider that to just be a mother with no other identity, can limit their daughters' ambition, quite apart from the cost to their readiness to think about finances in general. For things to change there needs to be
greater mutual understanding between the sexes.
Compassion, courage and wisdom
Women can't force men to treat them in the way they prefer but with encouragement a lot can be achieved. As a Buddhist, to me encouragement requires access to my courage, compassion and wisdom. Courage helps me to stick my head above the parapet and claim recognition for my successful projects and adequate financial reward for my results. Compassion helps me
realise that many men are just as uncertain about communicating with women as we are about communicating with them. They, like us, also want to be recognised and rewarded and without the status of being the number one carer to their children that women often have, perhaps it's even more important to them. Wisdom helps us stand back and trust that there will always be
another opportunity to get our point across and next time we will do it in a way that opens up win/win possibilities for all involved.
Women may feel that the necessary advancement mindset for any organisation is a political one, which often has bad associations for us. Women tend to be relational and are good at building trust politics can appear as a threat to this approach. Baddeley and James have an interesting take on it with their animal stereotypes: foxes, owls, donkeys and sheep. They maintain that it's possible to maintain your integrity whilst finding a way through an organisation’s power relationships.
Encouragement doesn't mean you let male colleagues take advantage of you, rather it means seeing them as human beings like you who are grappling with the same cultural imperatives and finding a way to get the desired results, together. Rather than seeing it as having to become becoming politically calculating and insensitive, I see it as developing maturity. There is a threshold women need to step over to be taken seriously in the workplace, that is very much like growing up. The basic objective is to help women who want to advance, grow into who they are and leverage that with all the courage, wisdom and compassion they can muster!