In light of the recent ‘Presidents Club’ scandal, should British professionals rethink same sex networking groups? There seems to be a real gender segregation within the current media climate, mainly due to the #metoo campaigns, ‘Time’s Up’ black dress attire at the Golden Globes in support of those who suffered sex abuse within the film and theatre industry, and the devastating Oxfam Haiti Scandal with more cases slowly crawling out of the charitable woodwork. This is amazing, frightening, and an awakening, and will really shake so many industries. Highlighting this after a long, dark, sexist age, surely this is what we as women have been waiting for all these years?
Misogynistic behaviour is totally unacceptable, and I’ve personally experienced dreadful sexual harassment from an early stage in my career, one boss claiming he wished he’d found me at 9 and locked me in a room until I was old enough for him to have all to himself. Another who said he’d sack me if I didn’t sleep with him there and then while on a trip abroad, (exposing his huge fat belly), needless to say I screamed ‘SACK ME THEN!’ Male Colleagues at another workplace throwing pens on the floor and insisting I pick them up in front of them, and most recently, the enormous amount of predators who entered a retail outlet I worked at recently!
Even though I’ve faced the most extreme cases of sexism, the question I want to pose it this: “are female only networking groups raising the profile of women in business, or are we selling ourselves short?” I absolutely agree female only networks are so supportive for those feeling the lost confidence after focusing on the children and being away from their game for a few years, however, are we not shooting ourselves in the foot by creating ‘Girl Boss Gangs’, surely this is the other end of the spectrum? If men were to organise something similar, women would be absolutely outraged. I believe both sexes need to work together to make our workplace balanced; we only have to look at how imbalanced it has been all these years.
As I teach my two girls that they can do anything a guy can and that our history proves women have been massively abused and undermined and we’ve come so far, I also want them to learn how to respect men as they would their fellow female friends. Why? Because until a ‘human’ shows lack of respect to you, then surely, they deserve the same respect you would expect back, male or female! Surely it’s now time for all men and women to take a good long look at each other, respect each other and look forward to an equal, balanced world without sexism or segregation?