Leda Writes for Fintech Futures: why I don’t talk about gender
Every Thursday, Leda Glyptis, 11:FS Chief of Staff creates #LedaWrites. This week she turns her attention to diversity in financial services.
I cannot talk about my experience of being a woman in the workplace without getting angry. And I mean the kind of angry Brexit conversations seem to bring about. In me at least. The inarticulate, despairing, why-are-we-even-having-this-conversation kind of angry.
I have been asked if I plan on having children before getting a promotion in a bank. I have been sexually propositioned by a former boss. I have been accosted by a client in a lift at a conference. I have been told my looks are distracting in senior meetings (no, it is not a compliment). I have been talked over. I have had my point dismissed only to hear a dude repeat the same point five minutes later to general applause.
All of those things have happened again and again and again. And I see them happening to women all around me. Again and again and again.
These moments were not unique in themselves and they were not unique to me. And HR was giving the best “damage limitation” advice in the circumstances.
So I don’t talk about gender. Because I am seething. And grandma would tell me it may best to say nothing at all. But do instead.
So I don’t talk about gender because I prefer to focus on the whole story. Not the bad parts. I will be damned if my story will be reduced to what some idiot decided to say or do.
And I choose to do my small bit to change the story, wherever I can, however I can.
And as I rise through the ranks – because you can put me down, but you can’t bring me down, buster – as I rise through the ranks, I try not to hire idiots. And if any slip through the net (and some always do) I make sure they don’t get to act out their idiocy on my watch: you change your tune or change your job.
Diverse hires don’t insulate you from all-weather idiots. You still need to filter those out actively and deliberately at all times. But overall diversity helps limit those micro moments that insidiously change your macro narrative and you don’t even know they have. Diversity in your meetings and your corridors mean that certain behaviours are less likely to happen and more likely to be picked up and challenged. And that is a lateral benefit of sorts.
So let’s get there by dealing with the big stuff and the small stuff with equal urgency. Let’s get there by doing and stopping and starting. Talking, sure, but not primarily, not solely and for those of us who can’t say anything good, doing without speaking should be enough.
Ultimately, telling these stories isn’t what matters.
Having people at work whose stories doesn’t involve these moments, is what matters. This not being part of the story matters. So, really, the only thing that matters is the thing that gets us there. Away from the place where we need to talk about gender.
Until that day comes, we each fight our fight.
And the fact that we are still here, and gender is only part of the story, is my story. The one I will continue telling silently, by still being here, until the day when none of us need to consider the need to talk about gender.
Read the whole story at Fintech Futures.