When Women Follow The Corporate Rules
Monday night I was watching Dancing With The Stars. (Disclaimer: I have never watched this series before and I have never watched any like program before but, being that I live in Dallas, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, needs all the help he can get).
The panel of judges is made up of two men and a woman, Carrie Ann Inaba. Popular star Jane Seymour and her partner finish their dance and Carrie Ann points out that, against the rules, the couple had a lift in their presentation. The audience yowls, the two male judges yowl and Jane and her partner vehemently deny it. And they all proceed to villify Carrie Ann. "Oh, you have that schoolmarm look," says one of the hosts. Twice more during the evening, Carrie Ann spies lifts and raises the issue and again, she gets nothing but grief and absolutely no support from the two other judges. And this despite the fact that the video clearly shows that the lifts were there and they were indeed against the rules.
Welcome to Corporate America - where the women are told the rules, attempt to follow and enforce the rules and then get made fun of for doing so. We are made out to be big bitches (I guess I can say that, it's my blog) with no sense of humor. Small minded, petty. Wink, wink, nod, nod among the men.
I can't even tell you the number of times that I insisted that the rules be followed and got left high and dry. The worst time was at a rewards trip in Hawaii when one of our senior executives continued to make a series of sexist and racists remarks when addressing the salesforce, despite being warned not to at a break. Being the most senior women in attendance (when wasn't I, there were so few of us then), I confronted him directly. He denied doing anything wrong and walked away. For the rest of the week I was person non grata - no one in management spoke to me. But, by the end of the week, the legal department had suggested that the company was on thin ground and the executive was made to get up before the assembled crowd and apologize. For months I was sure I would lose my job over the incident (embarassing a senior executive with my schoolmarmish ways!), but eventually it passed.
Back to Dancing with the Stars. Last night the show began by showing three sets of dancers that had broken the rules and a statement by the host that from now on the rules must be adhered to or the dancers will lose points. No apology to Carrie Ann. But then, that's the way it usually goes. They eventually comply but they never say sorry.
I wish I knew the answer. I just think it is in women's nature to follow the rules. I guess when you join a company try to sit back a little and see if the rules they tell you are really the rules that get enforced.