How to Dismantle the Patriarchy as a Female Entrepreneur
Over the course of my career, I’ve worked in many male-dominated industries with well established Boys Clubs. Overcoming this institutionalized mindset is a challenge, and one of the biggest obstacles women continue to face in their careers. Now I won’t sugar coat it, in battling the Boys Club, I’ve certainly driven my fair share of people away and probably limited some of my professional opportunities, but it’s also the only way I was able to achieve career success – being my own champion and a champion for other women. Here are some ways I’ve dismantled the boys club.
Direct Feedback and Education:
Most of my male colleagues simply did not realize what impact their actions had on the women who worked with or for them. And I took it upon myself to provide that education, even taking a stand when necessary. Like the time when I told my direct reports strip clubs were an unacceptable line item on an expense report. I did not necessarily tell them they could not go but that they could not use company funds. I also explained to them how it felt to their employees, peers and supervisors who were women. In general they respected my stand on it and took pride in being on my team.
Now I know these types of conversations can be scary and/or difficult – one time I made a male colleague so mad that he came to my office and pounded his hands on my desk while shouting – but even in that scary scenario, I knew I was right and luckily HR thought so too.
For a business to succeed and flourish, then it must cultivate an environment of inclusion. This is why when I feel there is something unethical/toxic happening, I am compelled to take a stand.
Sometimes circumventing the boys clubs altogether is the only viable path to the top. And the best way to accomplish this is by hiring women, promoting women and by mentoring women. With these actions, you’re creating an environment that signals to your colleagues and customers that the company values diversity and inclusion. And to reiterate something I mentioned above, for a business to succeed and flourish, all team members must feel valued and empowered to reach their potential.