You may be screaming about the males-only club in your workplace, but we mommies have our own exclusive, vag-only counterpart.
Shari Storm: I've never experienced the blatant sexism at work that some of my older friends have. While I admit to taking up golf because that's where the deals get done in my industry, I can't say I've ever had a male counterpart tell me to get coffee or invite me to sit on his lap (Oh the stories some of my mentors have shared!).
I have noticed that when CEO positions have opened up in the past few years, my male colleagues find out about them faster than I do. I've also noted that my men friends get interviewed for CEO spots more often than I do, and more men have taken the corner office in my industry than women.Does this signify an undercurrent of modern sexism in the workplace? I don't know. I think the larger issue at play is that people like to hang out with others who are like them. It's probably politically incorrect to say this, but I think men like to hang out with men and women like to hang out with women.
And it's while you are hanging out that information gets shared. Job openings are revealed, referrals are made, and deals are committed. It's nothing sinister. It's just the way humans operate.
It is DEFINITELY the way moms operate. I've known this to be true since I entered the world of motherhood six years ago, but it really hit home to me when moms started rallying around Anissa Meyhew. I knew of Anissa because of her daughter, a young cancer survivor by the name of Peyton. The online mom network embraced Peyton's young battle with cancer, ultimately posting over 36,000 visits to her website.
Then Anissa had a stroke. Within a day of her husband reporting it, moms across the world changed their Twitter avatar to read "4anissa." When her husband posts an update as simple as "Anissa received a feeding tube today," the post gets hundreds of comments.
Unlike the good ol' boy networks of the past, when moms support one another, they do so publicly, loudly, and relentlessly. Online moms have an uncanny ability to walk in lockstep with one another. Don't believe me? Ask Motrin. Moms are a force to be reckoned with. Companies that historically courted the good ol' boys are finally figuring out that it's the wives and moms who control the purse strings. We are now the sweethearts of many a marketing effort. We have far more control than ever before.
On the one hand, I am glad to be a member of this dominant community. The birth of my three daughters taught me the secret handshake, and I'm one of them. On the other hand, I want to make sure that my network of moms doesn't do what the power group before us did.
I got a call from a colleague of mine who does not have children. She recently started her etiquette coaching business and was asked to teach a group of 12-year-olds basic table manners. Her question to me was, "Do I dare take this job since I am not a mother?" My initial reaction was that she was being silly. But after considering how she feels as an onlooker in the realm of moms and social media, I could see her point. We can come off as highly self-regarded and exclusive.
My message to moms is to embrace our newfound influence and to appreciate the fact that with influence comes responsibility. We have a responsibility to support not only our fellow-mother, but others who merit it.
|Shari Storm is the author of "Motherhood is the New MBA: Using Your Parenting Skills to be a Better Boss" (Thomas Dunne / St. Martins Press). Storm earned her Masters of Business Administration from Seattle University. In addition to being an executive at a $400 million financial institution, Storm is a mentor for Seattle University's graduate program and writes for Working Mother Magazine blog. Storm has three young daughters.|