So often I hear women ask about
‘Women-only networking events’.
As a woman, I advocate for a co-ed networking and development space. Here’s why …
The other day, I received a less-than-glowing email from a peer.
It wasn’t misogynistic.
I wasn’t sworn at.
I didn’t even get called a name.
But, in this email, the writer openly disrespected my reputation in front of another potential colleague.
That didn’t feel right to me. So, I called him on it.
Yes, I wish I had done it with more detailed communication instead of the I-am-busting-my-butt-to-stay-on-top-of-all-the-things quick, short and direct response.
Nonetheless, what I received was a reaction created to trigger shame.
It took my pragmatic response to his initial disrespect and it made it highly emotional and degrading.
Yes, I hear you, how is this possibly advocating for a co-ed environment?
Quite simply: The World is Co-Ed.
His response gave me an opportunity to sit with myself,
Dissect the triggers,
Then respond with compassion, integrity and firm boundaries for any future relationship.
As a woman, we must seek opportunities that allow us to stand up.
Situations that encourage us to speak out about matters that don’t align with our own values or ideas of the world.
Because, WOman, men have been doing it for centuries.
They are masters at ‘saying it how it is’, shaking hands and moving on. Clocking that experience up to learning.
As a gender stereotype, women with women can get highly emotional and procrastinate on holding firm.
It’s not our fault, it’s societal conditioning.
If we only associate with groups of other women in business, we are limiting our own opportunities for growth.
Let’s be clear, this particular scenario is not the NORM for me or our group.
And, the email was not from one of my clients in our community of The Business League. It was from one of my personal business network.
But, the point about speaking up and holding myself in integrity and responding with such to a dominant male, is what makes me confident and able to lead groups of any size or sex.
I have many women folk in my life who I network with.
But, it is from the men who I have supported, encouraged and challenged inside our co-ed coaching and networking spaces, that have given me the most opportunity to practice courage and respect for myself.
I stand equally at the table, knowing I deserve the God-damn seat.
Women-only networks have a massive space to hold and they need to keep going. I am part of many myself.
I do, however, ask that you question your desire for women-only groups.
Do you seek them out because they are a place of comfort?
Do you balance your business interactions with co-ed opportunities?
I’m an advocate for equality across all sectors.
Standing and owning my seat in a co-ed network is the way I can shift the genetic makeup of the next generations.
I may not be the Mother of Girls (I have two young men to raise), but I sure as hell have a community of humans to build up and a whole tribe of sisters to rise with.
Co-Ed Networking opens more doors. The more practice we get at doing business with all sexes, the more opportunity we create for a bigger world.