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Archive for the ‘Life matters’ Category

What really happens when women make up more than 50% of the workforce?

Women in workforce

Cover of The Economist 2010

Have you noticed that the position of women in the workforce is actually declining, despite all the upbeat news to the contrary?

A major Australian corporation has a reputation of being ‘a bit of a boys’ club’ but, until recently, they’d been able to refute that perception.

No more.

Over the latter part of 2012, just about all the senior women were ‘encouraged’ out of the organisation, or effectively demoted.

Women still get paid less

In the news recently in Australia: women graduates’ starting salary is, on average, $5,000 less than that of male graduates.

You may accept that most of this disparity is due to industry choice. However, this recent post from the Harvard Business Review blog, Six Paradoxes Women Leaders Face in 2013, refutes this old chestnut.

Over the last six months, anecdotal evidence from overseas certainly suggests that women are being targeted unfairly and losing their jobs. Women are describing what’s happening to them as ‘a modern-day witch hunt’.

What have you noticed in your industry? Do you feel that women are being singled out?

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Actually, that’s not quite true. Colour is the new black, but I believe it’s a symptom of optimism…or simply defiance.

Colour me happy

At the height of the global financial crisis (GFC), sales of black cars soared even as car sales overall had stalled. Now we’re seeing sales of white cars (white being a symbol of hope) go through the roof.

In Australia, at least, you’d need to be blind not to have noticed all the bright colours around; in fashion, in home décor, in decorations generally. I’ve noticed, too, that the dominant colour is red. It appears that the collective mood has swung from pessimistic to defiantly optimistic.

What do the colours mean?

Most of us know that the colours we use can affect our mood, just as our mood predicates the colours we wear and use. For the last few seasons (in Australia, Europe and the US), the dominant colour was yellow. In the context of the GFC, yellow signified ‘cautious optimism’.

Red is much more intense and signifies increased enthusiasm, energy, action…but it’s also a bit of a security blanket against fears and anxiety. Red is a sign of danger but it’s also known as the colour of love…and perhaps we’re ready to give more. Witness the current craze for posting online compliments on Facebook.

Red also means ‘Stop’.

Anecdotally, everyone is ready for the end of the working year. My clients, usually paragons of excellence, are sending me (relative) rubbish. We’re tired, mentally, and we need red to help us make it to the finish line.

We’re ready for some FUN and an intermission from the constant gloomy outlook. Let Europe sort out its own problems; and America’s ‘fiscal cliff’ is now mooted to be more of a measured slide or a non-event, according to Alan Kohler. We can only be frugal for so long before we need to break out.

Australia’s doing just fine

Despite the scaremongering, the IMF has given the Australian economy a big tick. To be clear, it’s a qualified tick, and, yes, we may have lower growth for a few years, but isn’t that going to be more sustainable? We live in a country blessed with (reasonably) good government, a high standard of living and, best of all, we possess a pretty good attitude to life.

Have you noticed the profusion of colour? Do you think it means we’re more optimistic or simply defiant? Do you see the predominance of red as a warning signal or a sign of better times? I welcome your thoughts.

I wish you all a happy and safe Christmas and I look forward to our collective happiness and enthusiasm in 2013.

Multi-coloured banner

Multi-coloured banner from City of Sydney 2012

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Find your inner tank

Sometimes, we need an impartial observer to show us our real strengths.

A few weeks ago I participated in a personal development program in north Queensland. It was a wonderful experience, with participants from all over the world gathered together to work and play.

The program itself was a combination of classroom-based discussion and smaller work groups that joined with the local community to help create better facilities for the local population.

At the end of the week, work group buddies gave feedback to each other; first impressions, the qualities you observed and so on.

My feedback to one woman (we’ll call her Anja) was: ‘You’re like a bulldozer (in a good way!) You’re determined and focused on really making this program work for you and everyone involved.’

Later that evening, she confessed that, in her first year at university, her tutor had mentioned another girl at the same college. ‘This girl does everything; gets all her work done early, strives for excellence, gets involved in all the programs she can – she’s like a tank.’

Said Anja passionately: ‘I wanted to be that girl; I wanted to be the tank…and now you’ve told me I’m a bulldozer. I made it.’

Well, she didn’t just get to being a tank/bulldozer in the week we were all together. Anja simply didn’t recognise her ‘inner tank’.

When we’re task-focused and a bit fearful, we may not be able to recognise our better qualities. These days we tend to concentrate on ‘fixing’ the negative rather than accentuating the positive.

Not everyone has the luxury of taking a week out of their lives and learn from others about what makes them lovable and worthy.

Maybe it’s time to give yourself a break and recognise the good within yourself.

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