I consider myself to be a fairly well-rounded, modern woman.
I enjoy bonding with the girls over fruity martinis but I also enjoy drinking beer and hanging with the guys. I like fine dining, dressing up, and attending charity events but I also love attending sporting events. I’m a football and hockey fan but I also enjoy wine tasting trips. I’ve taken up golf and have played in my share of scrambles (usually on teams with at least some men) over the past few years.
I’m comfortable in, and thrive in, a variety of situations with both women and men. And I do these things because I truly enjoy them. I am not forcing myself to do them because I think they will better my position or help me advance my career.
Not long ago, I was attending an offsite team meeting at a local country club. Following the meeting we had a cocktail hour planned as a thank you from our senior vice president for our recent hard work on a variety of projects. As our team of women gathered on the patio on a beautiful summer afternoon, we were given a “heads up” by the wait staff that we were going to need to vacate the patio at 4:00 as it was “Men’s Night” and no women were allowed to be there. As we jokingly asked when “Ladies’ Night” was, the somber reply from the waitress was, “there is no Ladies’ Night.”
Yes, absolutely serious. Apparently “Men’s Night” is part of the club’s by-laws that go back approximately 100 years. The thing is, outdated as they may be, they are still observed. As we dutifully vacated the patio at precisely 4:00, I began thinking about the business world and practices that prolong outdated thinking. Some may call it the Good Ole Boys Club.
Women in business have come a long way. There are successful women in high places. There are female CEOs, CFOs, Senior Vice Presidents and many women that we can look up to as mentors and trailblazers. Though I work in a historically male-dominated industry, my own company has females in prominent positions and does a nice job of including women in social events, golf tournaments, etc.
However, in the dark corners of many companies’ existences, how many have unspoken practices that unconsciously or subconsciously exclude women? Especially in male-dominated industries, how many have the equivalent of “Men’s Night,” unofficial social outings, gatherings, or networking that favor men and deny women the chance to interact with their male counterparts outside of the office setting? How many perpetuate the existence of the Good Ole Boys Club – maybe not intentionally, but in reality because of practice?
As a modern woman who enjoys socializing with men as well as women in a variety of settings, “Men’s Night” was appalling. That I may be excluded from certain social opportunities, denied the opportunity to participate in activities that I enjoy regardless of who is involved because I am a women, greatly disappoints me. I can’t help but wonder how the patio situation would have been handled had we been a group of both men and women?
Women of HR readers, what do you think? Are these outdated practices still more common than we’d like to admit? And how do we move beyond this? I’d love to hear your thoughts.