Hey Girlfriend, or in this case Boyfriend,
We’re glad you’re checking this post out as it’s a masterclass for new male executives going into the workplace. We know that you’re fit to bursting with excitement about the changes you’re going to bring to the company, the money you’re going to make and your whole life is going to revolve around those two things. If it doesn’t you’re not going to be a good executive, you’re going to be a failure and you may as well quit right now.
Let’s start at the beginning with things new male executives need to know about the workplace:
You will wear a suit and tie, with a shirt that fits. No matter how hot it gets in the office you will keep them on at all times. You are a responsible male, so you will not show off your biceps or the curve of your butt in the office. You will not show them off after-work drinks and you will not do it on the commute to and from work. At any point another human being can see you then you will look like a young male executive.
Boys may be boys, but they stop being beings in their teens and become young men. Any banter that would be cool at 14 has no place in the office.
Jokes must be funny for everyone, otherwise, it’s not a joke. Any “joke” that belittles another person’s gender, race, features or background isn’t a joke but a form of bullying. Again, it wasn’t funny at 14, it’s not funny now.
Enforcing stereotypes that women are stupid, and men have waffle brains doesn’t benefit anyone. If you believe these old tropes we have to question whether you’re actually smart enough to work in this company. Divest yourself of thoughts that are not backed up by science and research.
Fancy getting Biblical because women in the workplace looking like women is “unholy” and they should be covered up, or better yet, pregnant and cooking in the kitchen? If this is you and you plan to use this argument to make your workplace sacred remember the Bible says things about you too, things you wouldn’t want to be enforced.
It holds masturbation high up on the list of things not to do. If you’re tempted to go Biblical in the workplace, remember to start with yourself first and stop masturbating. I’d encourage you to go for a cheeseburger, but the Bible outlaws eating cheese and meat together. Oh, and don’t forget our favourite things you are not allowed to include being a stubborn, rebellious, profligate, and drunkard son. Living your own life to Biblical standards is an admirable quality, but it’s best kept at home, in your personal life, whilst you’re focusing on being a better son and getting your own house in order.
The women in the office are not there to get you a coffee, answer your phones or deflect your girlfriends. If they smile at you it’s not flirting. If they touch their hair, the chances are they’re moving it out of the way and not trying to use it to gain your attention. Your female colleagues are not there to organise something for you from an office party to a gift collection – it’s not in their job description. As a new male executive you may be looking for someone to replace your mother, but the truth is without parental love blinding her she wouldn’t willingly do these things for you either. Make your own coffee, and include everyone on your team. And smile when you do it. It’s okay. No one will think for a moment you’re coming on to them.
There will be times when a woman in the office speaks, and you think you have something more important to say. Because your parents raised you not to be a stubborn, rebellious, profligate, and drunkard son, you will wait until she’s finished before you speak.
When a woman has a good idea in a meeting, repeating it out loud and then taking credit for it isn’t a good stance to take. Because you will need this woman by your side forever. If she has the idea, she’ll know how to implement it and other things. So if you take her idea, you have to take her with you too, and this not only holds back her career, it limits yours. Because when you take the credit for someone else’s work you’re not a team player. You don’t have the required soft skills for advanced leadership positions. Your lack of creative thought is down to you. Shackling a woman with ideas to your career trajectory because you’re not an original thinker is something poor executives do.
Treat the people of colour on your team with respect. Don’t touch their hair. In fact, when asked about their hair say it looks great and then shut up. You have zero opinion on cornrow plaits, weaves, dreadlocks and other hairstyles you know nothing about or have ever experienced.
Assertiveness is fine, but if a woman has the same level of assertiveness and you’d be offended then you’re not assertive but harsh and brash. Dial back your assertiveness.
Have to touch a colleague? Male executives only touch people on their lower arm. They do not throw their arms around people, they do not put their arms around a colleague (male or female) at all.
Use your manners. You were taught please and thank as the most basic option. Use them. Use them as punctuation. Use please to open a sentence and thank you to close one. Think it makes you sound less authoritative? Excellent, you now know this technique is used to undermine leaders all the time, as if politeness is something wrong.
Faced with an “angry” black colleague? Ask yourself what you did or said that makes you perceive them as angry. Perhaps you were overly assertive when you shouldn’t have been, or you’ve touched them when you shouldn’t have, stole their idea or took credit for their work. All the things you’d be angry about if they happened to you. Do not dismiss or validate someone’s anger based on their skin colour. Anger is a powerful emotion, and you’re lining yourself up to be on the wrong side of it. Address your privilege. It’s not up to people to educate you. If you’re smart enough to graduate business school with a degree, you’re smart enough to Google “white male privilege”. Look up “white guilt” when you’re there. This will give you a more humble perspective when dealing with your colleagues. Learn to celebrate diversity in the company.
Learn from the women around you. Women-led organisations perform better. If you fail to learn from ALL the smart people around you then you’re failing this company.
There are so many things to learn as a new male executive. You might find that the company you work for has sexist, racist or out-moded beliefs.
If you’re invited to complete a “scorecard” like this then you know you need a new job.
If you don’t see a scorecard like this, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in your company. Ask other members of your team if they’ve seen it. If that’s the case, working for this company won’t boost your career because you become complicit in their mistakes. If you find yourself working for an organisation that treats women badly, and people of colour poorly then it’s time to move into a company where everyone is treated with respect.
Getting enraged at these rules for new male executives? Fantastic! Channel that energy into your work. Remember, women, seniors and people of colour have unfair things projected on them all the time and they still do the job with a smile at 2/3rds of your pay.
Good luck with your career