shutterstock_52317865As women business owners, managers, executives, or community leaders, it is important that we provide support to each other and serve as positive role models for current and future generations of women.  That does not equate, however, to exclusionary practices or antagonistic actions toward women who choose different paths or toward business men.

Too often recently the environment of business has turned into a “with us or against us mentality”  that does nothing to advance the competitive cause of women.  Competency and competition have little to do with the gender.

It is still quite common for women in leadership roles to be the only woman in a room full of men.  Competing head-to-head and toe-to-toe has long since passed the stage of dressing in “feminized” three piece pinstripe suits of the 70’s and 80’s.  Intelligence, expertise, experience and confidence are what we should wear proudly.  Too many lessons have been taught and learned for the savvy man (or woman) to pass judgment based upon color or gender.

Yes, there are still a few anachronistic (old-fashioned and out of step) business people floating around – making brief and hopefully uneventful appearances.  These dinosaurs of thought and conduct give testimony to how far things have come, and yes, remind us of how far women still have to go.

But we shouldn’t become obstacles to ourselves.  As women we have an obligation to compete well, honestly, ethically, and with competence.   We need to challenge ourselves and each other to differentiate and compete on performance not gender.

The “Girls Club” can be a powerful force to advance how women do business and support each other.  It can also become an obstacle to truly competing in the business world.  When women’s groups, associations, and networking becomes a mechanism for impeding free and open competition or they become a forum for negativity and rhetoric, then no one wins, least of all women.

When the “Girls Clubs” begin taking on the practices and tactics of the “Good Ole Boys Clubs”, then it is time to step back, step up, and step out…to get beyond stereotypes.  To compete based upon ability and capability, not on any other factor, is what the “girls” have been striving for.  We will reach the objective of “equality” only when we set a high standard, not when we sink to other levels.

Copyright ©2015 Lea A. Strickland, F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.

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