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Earning Power!: June 2005

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Eight Ways We Flunk Boundaries 101

Sure women have experienced real harassment at work, but men have also suffered unjustly because of misinterpreting the confusing signals that women can send in the workplace. There are many cases where a man is responding to messages a woman sends unintentionally or intentionally. When might you assume the intent of a man’s response isn’t really malicious or intentional sexism? It’s in these cases that a woman’s response can be firm but instructive to the guys we work with, rather than vindictive or vengeful.

The 8 F's
The most common areas where men are giving positive feedback to a woman, but women may interpret it as a negative can be called the 8 F’s of boundaries.

  1. Flirting is fine, as long as it doesn’t persist after it’s asked to stop. For the most part we could all enjoy a little flirting. But we need to make it clear if it’s unwanted.
  2. Flattering compliments are great unless they become annoying or uncomfortable. When the woman politely declines them, stop making them.
  3. Fashion is okay if used to look professionally attractive, but not if it is attracting unwanted attention. A kind reminder to maintain a professional environment is all that’s needed. Don’t be a corporate clone. Instead use flair, but not as a sex object. Think “style” but not “fashion”.
  4. False impressions happen when someone is reciprocating something that you weren’t aware you were projecting. If you are sending out messages that you didn’t intend to, there just needs to be clarification of original intent, and then adjustment of behavior.
  5. Friendliness is not an invitation to unwanted advances. If someone is friendly it is common courtesy, not an invitation for someone to pursue them as a mate.
  6. Flagrancy is bold or overt sexual display that is only appropriate in certain consenting adult industries. In some environments it is encouraged, in most, it should be discouraged in favor of professionalism. And PLEASE don't subject your coworkers to it.
  7. Feelings fly in the workplace. I suggest you try to get your emotional needs met outside of the office. Coworkers are not therapists or shoulder to cry on, and shouldn’t be put upon that way. This behavior invites foolishness into a career.
  8. Fault is blaming the victim for being attractive or enticing, or denying the accusations that you’ve been inappropriate. Because the accuser has painted you with the wrong brush, grouping you with criminal harassers or discriminators, you are surprised or offended. If someone suggests improvement in how you interact with the opposite sex at work, it is easy to get defensive. Instead you should not belittle or negate the accuser’s experience of you, but try to understand why it occurred, correct the misperception, and take steps to solve the problem.

    Men and women often can’t see each other’s points of view without explanations and education.

    A lot of times men’s comments to women come in the form of feedback on her appearance. Men do this because they’re just trying to help improve the effectiveness or potency of the power of a woman’s appearance. Men think they are empowering by doing this, but women become offended. All women have these things happen. A woman I know once had a boss, who in an annual evaluation told her that she needed to wear her glasses more often because it made her look older and smarter and therefore made her more credible. He gave feedback to another female coworker that she needed to wear makeup more often.
    In these cases the solution is usually to use the phrase, “I don’t know if you intend to, but.” For example, “I don’t know if you intend to sound this way, but when you comment on my make-up it makes me feel like it isn’t advice that would come up in a performance review of the guys here, so you make it seem like I’m not being evaluated for my performance and contributions to the team, but rather on my attractiveness. I know you, Bill, and you couldn’t have meant that, could you?” Helping him save face while keeping the working relationship in tact solves the problem, raises the awareness, and nips feelings before resentment grows.
    Most perceived harassment is annoying, not serious. Look at who is in the position of power to see the truth, and if there isn’t the intent to harm, women can really help guys improve. When both are to blame, use humor to counter annoyances but make the point clear. If a woman participates ongoing in innuendo, teasing, flirting or behavior that one-ups the boys’ offensiveness, the only “fair” outcome is to cut the losses. When both sides take responsibility we can have a fair and friendly workplace.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Earning Power Award For Men

We are seeking nominees for the Earning Power Award for Men.

The award is given to top business men who empower women through efforts in sponsorship, leadership, mentoring and verifiable results such as promotions, pay, and performance. The award recognizes men that demonstrate a commitment to business practices in everyday operations, management philosophies, and response to challenges, treatment of employees and to involvement in civic concerns as related to women in business.

To submit a candidate for consideration, e-mail with the story, the contact information and three references. Business leaders may be nominated in three categories: Large (greater than 2,500 employees), Mid-sized (100-2,500 employees) and Small (fewer than 100 employees). Nominations may come from a man or woman who is a client, employee, vendor or private citizen who is impressed with the nominee’s business conduct. References must include women and information must be verifiable for consideration.

Friday, June 03, 2005

10 Types of Men that Empower Working Women

Everyone knows how to recognize a chauvinist or the guy who seems really helpful just because he wants to sleep with women. But why focus on the negative?
We’ve identified at least 10 types of men who help professional women and what motivates them to do it.
Who are these men? The list of men follows the acronym EMPOWERING because that’s what they are to women.
If you are one of these guys, we applaud you! If you aren’t, consider the many benefits of changing your ways.

Economic Man-
How to spot him: A man who realizes that women hold the purse strings and he wants to sell appropriately to get their money before someone else does. With women now making the majority of online purchases, vacation, home furnishings, retail sales, consumer electronics, vehicles and even lawn mowers knowing women is smart business.
Why he’ll help: He promotes women to ensure his edge. The benefit to him is profits and margins. Sometimes women are his competitive edge.
Cautions: His biggest concern is the bottom line. When women don’t help his financial interests he isn’t interested in them.

Minority Man-
How to spot him: This may be a gay man, ethnic, religious, economic, foreigner or other guy who feels separated from the men in charge. He cares about gender issues because he understands what it is to be a minority and wants to support the cause.
Why he’ll help: The benefits to him for empowering women include more flexible options at work such as domestic partner rights, more sensitivity to diversity, increased awareness of the moral need for equality, and they value different perspectives.
Cautions: Despite similar interests these guys are still men and still have access to kinship benefits that women don’t.

Project Men-
How to spot him: This is a man who knows his limitations and understands that a woman will be better for the job. He strives for success of project and initiatives by delegating areas he’s unqualified to do himself with the best person.
Why he’ll help: The benefit to him is the work gets done well and he takes credit for finding the smart women talent.
Cautions: He will very often attempt to hire women at a reduced rate for overall project cost projections return on investment and total cost of ownership.

One Guy There-
How to spot him: He is easiest to find as the token male among women, a man who is alone when there are few or no other men in the industry.
Why he’ll help: The benefit for men to get involved in an all women’s organization is that he becomes a unique commodity among women, forcing them to broaden and diversify their approach which empowers everyone as a consequence.
Cautions: He is the first to file a reverse discrimination suit and name you as a perpetrator.

Woman Lover-
How to spot him: This is a man who just loves to work with women. I’m not referring to sexual enjoyment. Instead this guy sincerely enjoys women’s special traits, characteristics or leadership styles.
Why he’ll help: The benefit to him is that it’s pleasant for him to go to work everyday. He really prefers being with business women.
Cautions: With all of those women around, there are bound to be attractions, distractions and jealousies. You also have to make sure he appreciates women for more than just office decoration.

Extra-Father Guy-
How to spot him: He’s man who has his own wife and daughter, but your second dad in the workplace.
Why he’ll help: The benefit to him in empowering women is to create a better environment for the women in his life by setting an example for the present behavior and future workplace. This guy wants the best for his own women, so he protects and mentors you.
Caution: He may do more for you than your own dad did, and if he retires, changes positions, or is sidelined himself because of age discrimination you’re on your own.

Raised by Feminist-
How to spot him: The child of a feminist is a man who is oversensitive to women’s causes. He censors his maleness to bring a more pleasant environment for women, and backs them because he was raised to think it was the right thing to do.
Why he’ll help: The benefits to him are a clear conscience and positive self esteem.
Cautions: He may be upset at his mom for not being more traditional and take it out on you.

Insurance Guy-
How to spot him: This man is really into corporate or personal risk management. Usually the guy himself is bad with women, or the company he works at is bad to women in general. So they hire a woman or promote her to say “I’m not such a bad guy.” Or “How can I be harassing women when I’m the one who promoted her.” He may promote or give pay raises to whole groups of women to avoid litigation.
Why he’ll help: The benefit to him is protection for the company or himself by staying out of lawsuits or other accusations that could derail his career.
Cautions: When he points to you to defend him because you were the only one he actually ever helped, you may feel a tremendous conflict of interest with the office sisterhood.

Now-Single Dad-
How to spot him: You see him raising his children on his own for many reasons, but increasingly because of divorce custody. This is tied to the larger trend of singling in America.
Why he’ll help: Promoting women allows him to be more comfortable as a dad. Advantages to him include getting the same family leave, flex schedule and childcare benefits as women.
Cautions: This guy may retaliate at all women eventually because of his ex.

Great-at-Home Man-
How to spot him: This is a man who really applies himself to child raising and home making, thereby empowering women to become breadwinner or a co-earner along with him.
Why he’ll help: There are numerous benefits to him. His efforts allow him to know his children and allow the couple to each do what they are best at. The household is able to increase overall income and enjoy the economic prosperity.
Cautions: Working women often don’t respect moms-at-home unless they become one themselves. It follows that the guy who helps at home may get a lot of undeserved criticism from other men as well as women who don’t give him the allowances and respect for making the right choice.