Stop judging.

Easy A

Watching old movies on a long haul flight I caught the 2010, teen movie Easy A with Emma Stone.  It’s essentially a movie about judgement.  Loosely (very loosely) based on the Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne, it recounts the experience of Olive, who is condemned for being promiscuous based on rumour – to be fair much of which she brings on herself.  One thing is clear, Olive can’t get through high school without being judged. 

At the recent conference I attended in NYC (hence the flight, and opportunity to spend time with old movies), the topic of women being judged came up at the World Woman Foundation UNGA conferenceKrista Webster, vc at Stagwell Global, chaired a panel on entrepreneurship and economic empowerment for women.  And it seems as though most business women also can’t get through their career without being judged, and that it is one of the causes of a lack of fairness in their career progression. 

Men still dominate the world of business, though women business start-ups have been increasing and according to Earthweb data released this week 43% of all global entrepreneurs are women.  However, funding from VCs is still massively skewed towards men.  According to Sanja Partalo, co-founder and managing partner of S4S Ventures, less than 5% of funds goes to women.  Women entrepreneurs are 2x more likely to get funding from women VCs.  There are only 2% of funds led by women.  Her advice to would be women entrepreneurs: “You have to be persistent and relentless”. 

Also this week research was published by Samsung, which shows that the same gendered judgements and issues are around today as existed 7 years ago when Kathryn Jacob and I wrote The Glass Wall, success strategies for women at work and businesses that mean business.  We garnered headlines back in 2016 for our advice to never pour the tea at work.  The new Samsung research says that women are still more likely to be asked to make tea, and how they cope with having children than men in the same role.  Whilst research for our latest book, with Mark Edwards, Belonging, the key to diversity, inclusion and equality at work, by Dynata, reveals that when asked whether they would rather be liked or respected at work, more women say they value being respected.  More men would prefer to be liked.  Perhaps men take respect more for granted?

Back to the WWF conference: Janneidy Velazquez, diversity lead at BMW, talked about the importance of making, and owning mistakes.  As I continually make mistakes and try to own them, and learn from them, I was inspired to hear her say that in fact mistakes need to be made.  For instance, interracial relationships were once a “mistake” as far as some societal conventional wisdom is concerned.   We should now celebrate all those who pioneered in this respect to change attitudes.  Taking judgements too hard means that people, and perhaps evidence shows particularly women, don’t feel safe to challenge the status quo. 

According the panellists on economic empowerment for women it is only failure that makes you appreciate the sweet smell of success.

Women of business: Eschew judgement, make mistakes, don’t make the tea.

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