Thursday, February 23, 2012

I hate laundry

Not because it's my "duty" to do laundry... simply because there are always better things to do than go down to the basement and sort, hang and fold.

I know folks whose spouses do the laundry. I know folks who like to do laundry. I know folks who have a system, or who send laundry out, or who have a housekeeper. I spent all summer buying underwear because I was coming home too late from work to tromp downstairs late at night and stay up even later to transfer wet things to the dryer.

Laundry is not in my work/life balance equation - it gets in the way of both. Laundry is up there with doing taxes or re-grouting the tub. Except laundry needs better than yearly attention; I was pushing it with my summer fling with La Senza.

I would rather shovel snow or weed the lawn than do laundry. I would rather dust the tops of the picture frames and clean out the cat box! I would rather polish my silver.... ok, maybe not... but you get the idea.

I swear on quiet nights I can hear the pile humping its way across the floor, multiplying, reaching the stairs, creeping up to the kitchen, leaving a colourful cotton and denim smear through the house replete with forgotten kleenex and misplaced cat toys.

Why rant about laundry?  Because laundry is like email - of which I have plenty at work, in my inbox, my archives and on my Blackberry. Think about it... laundry & email... a seemingly unlimited supply...

Monday, February 20, 2012

So what are women-only issues in the workplace?

For most issues folks name, someone will say "But that also applies to..." and they're often correct:
  • Sexual harassment (yes, it still happens)
  • Glass ceiling
  • Not being listened to
  • Tokenism
  • Single parent balancing act
  • Pay equity
  • Lack of visible role models at senior levels. etc.
Some days it appears the only women's issue is:

  • Considered a bitch if acting forcefully

While the issues may not only apply to women, it's certainly women who carry the larger burden of them. Discussions around these ongoing struggles need to acknowledge that women most often bear the cost/ suffer the consequences. However, that doesn't mean potential solutions should only be available to women.

Women's issues are not just gender-based issues.; women's issues in the workplace can cross many diversity lines. So any good ideas that help women should be open to everyone. Why not start with women though? Why not use women as the pilot/ test group for solutions which can, if successful, be made available to everyone? This would allow the workplace to acknowledge the largest working group they have, the issues and then share the success.

Wouldn't it be terrific if women could sponsor solutions for everyone such as flexible work hours, career coaching, daycare options and mentoring groups? Build a place where women love to work and everyone might enjoy working there.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bad Relationships and Mentoring

Like dating, mentoring relationships don't always work out.

Sometimes the chemistry just isn't there; the two folks involved just don't "get" each other. Perhaps one party doesn't respect the other. Maybe things never get past that "awkward" phase. Maybe neither can agree on a definition of "success" or what actions are required to get there. Maybe someone is just looking to show up while the other expects a big effort.

That's ok.

You can learn something from a bad relationship and/or you can "break up" and find one that does work. We're human. This isn't a mechanical process. It requires trust and vulnerability.

Besides, you never know when something you said /offered /did will come around. Sometimes folks just aren't ready to hear what you have to say but will find it valuable months later.

Be true to yourself. Be ready to do some work (on either side of the relationship). Be prepared to date a little until the right fit comes around.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Seriously, the best "manifesto" for women in the workplace I've read in ages is:

When it comes to limiting our potential – it’s the conversations we’re having in our heads, our beliefs, that may be holding us back.  A great introduction and presentation on the need to break our own rules.

Written by By Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt and published Sept. 7, 2011, both the book and the short PDF outline are a refreshing and practical view.

Share it!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Gender is news

Gender is in the news constantly. Lately, the news has been full of the horror of the "honour killings" of the teenage girls and their mother in Ontario. The radio story this morning that followed that piece was how a new study indicates that women are better parallel parkers than men.

This is Canada. I hear every day how evolved we are and how discussions around gender are no longer necessary. And yet, stereotypes and/or stories of violence against women are everywhere in our media, our entertainment, our workplaces and our communities.

Publicity and discussion are part of the education process; I'm not suggesting the media leave women out! I just marvel when folks tell me that gender issues no longer exist -  evem after a fall news item announced how supposedly we're still only earning .86 on the dollar, especially in Financial Services.
From stories on how female bosses wreck it for other women, to folks still struggling to make a business case for sponsoring women in the workplace or how maternity leave can "hurt" a career, gender discussion abounds.

I don't think we need to stop the debate but the circular discussions on "does gender difference really exist?" are not helping anyone move forward.

I suppose this is a rant more than a post with helpful suggestions. Gender shouldn't divide anymore than any other factor but yet the divide continues... more underground perhaps, but it continues. I don't have answers but I am happy to listen to yours.

International Women's Day is March 8. I usually mark it with a moment of silence.  Maybe we should encourage more communities to mark the day with us, in whatever spirit they feel they can offer?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Women: Toot your horns!

Tooting isn't loud, doesn't shatter ear drums, doesn't require a parade but draws the attention of the folks standing near enough to hear.
  • We need to start talking about the wins - personal or professional - and asking others about theirs.
  • We need to hold up what we did that worked, that didn't, what happened with us and - most importantly - because of us.
  • We need to start using language in a way that doesn't have us qualify our ideas before we've even stated them.
  • We can stop apologizing for speaking up.
  • We could stop turning statements into questions just so folks feel free to disagree?
Share the big project news, the small thank-you received, the moment of personal satisfaction.

We have become a society tuned to the critique but not the accomplishment and our tools in the workplace can reflect this imbalance. Meetings are looking for the issues, the red zones and rarely reflect on the daily and weekly accomplishments of the talent at the table.

Tooting your own horn can be a solo or team effort. It's more than your personal brand, it's modeling behaviours we need to see around us.

My mentors have been telling me the same thing all year: "start tooting...." So break out the kazoos because I'm going to try!