PracticeAccounting FirmsMoving forward: pride not prejudice

Moving forward: pride not prejudice

I know this column has seemingly got obsessed recently with women’s career management

It’s must be an important issue, however, especially among women, given that
in a recent Times 2 there was a two-and-half-page article on the subject. Guess
what the title was? ‘With Prejudice’.

This continues to be nonsense and is doing absolutely nothing positive for
women and is substantially negative as far as female career development is
concerned. The same rules apply to women as apply to anybody else in business;
if you want to succeed, be competitive. Constantly saying how life is so unfair
for women merely serves to reinforce the falsehood that it is actually unfair
and that women are a minority.

Let’s look to the positives. Every morning on my train into Euston you can
tell the women accountants and lawyers. Why? They are all wearing black. Who
told them to do that? I was a guest speaker at a UK200 Group conference in
London only the other day and I was told during the question and answer session
that an organisation had recently employed a consultant who was actually
advising its women to wear black. What complete and utter rubbish.

Any marketing consultant will tell you that brands have to promote their
difference. Translate this into an employment context and exactly the same
applies. Women should not dress as if they are all the same. If they want to
make their mark, they should start promoting their difference, and the last
thing that women want is advice from other women, from any quarter.

Think of it this way: if England wants to beat Australia at rugby or cricket,
the best way to find out how to do so is to get a coach who has the inside
knowledge as to how those teams perform,and train. And remember, it’s likely,
therefore, that they would choose a male, better still an Australian/New
Zealander who knows their strengths and weaknesses. You wouldn’t use the Ladies
Hockey coach. And this is what women in business are doing all the time. They
too often seek advice from other women on how to get ahead. Don’t! Ask a
successful man.

Women accountants, and those women who want to get into the profession, who
really wish to make their mark, will not do so either by behaving as if they are
a minority, or by dressing alike, especially not in black. Promote your
difference.

Andrew Garner is chief executive of Garner International

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