Regretfully, there won’t be an article on D&I from The Kaleidoscope Group this month. I was contacted by Mary Hunter, our Senior Vice President of Business Development – She’s a woman, which is totally fine with me because I treat everybody the same. Obviously, I’m not a sexist – and she thought an article that looked at the impact of the release of “Wonder Woman” might be a good way to go this month.
Unfortunately, once we connected by phone… things got weird.
Orlando: Hey, Mary. Ready to work on our Super-She-Ro article?
I laughed. She didn’t. Then, silence. (People point out all the time that women aren’t funny. So, I just figured she didn’t get the joke.)
Mary: Yeah… Anyway. The release of the new Wonder Woman movie has created a stir for many reasons.
Orlando: Weird, right? I mean, there’ve been so many superhero movies? Batman… Superman… Batman vs. Superman. I don’t get what the big deal is about this one.
Mary: Well, you just said it. Bat-MAN. Super-MAN.
Orlando: Oh, so this is all a “woman thing.”
Mary: Well, no. I mean, yeah. I mean… how often do we see women on the big screen, kicking butt in battle? I was excited to see just what shape and form the next generation of my childhood hero would take.
Orlando: Did you see those movie posters? I bet some twelve year old boys out there were pretty excit-
Mary: Don’t. Just… don’t.
Orlando: It’s just a joke.
Again, Mary’s lack of a sense of humor was getting in the way.
Mary: That’s not what I meant. I used to jump off my bed in my Wonder Woman costume, practicing her intense gaze with my hands resting on my hips. I just thought-
Orlando: You don’t have to say, “I just thought…” I mean, I know you thought it. You’re saying it. Just say it. Be assertive.
Mary: I wasn’t… not being assertive
Orlando: Whoa! No need to get defensive, Mary. My ears work fine.
Then, there was another awkward silence as, I assume, Mary dialed back the emotion.
Mary: My thinking… is that an article about the personal impact of seeing such a powerful woman represented could really resonate with a lot of people.
Orlando: You mean women.
Mary: It’s important for men to see that, too. And boys.
Orlando: But… it’s about a woman.
Mary took a moment to consider my rational point from my objective viewpoint.
Mary: Interestingly, what resonated most, as I watched the movie, was her ability to remain true to her authentic self in all situations and still get the job done. Never once did she miss an important battle because she was in her office spending precious time trying to figure out how to incorporate a softer style. But she also didn’t dump her team of ragtag men to just handle it all on her own. She was somehow able to perform well on a team and garner their respect, all the while being herself.
I couldn’t help but feel that Mary had made a point to stress the phrase “ragtag men.”
Mary: There’s a powerful metaphor there, in terms of some of the challenges women face in the workplace.
Orlando: Men face challenges in the workplace, too.
Mary: Are you hearing anything that I’m saying?
Mary: Never mind. My point is: there are specific challenges women face in the workplace, in terms of being able to just be ourselves. Behavior that is described as “assertive” when it comes from a man is described as… “defensive”… when it comes from a woman.
Orlando: So… as a working mom-
Mary: Do you ever refer to yourself as a “working dad?”
Orlando: Well… no.
Mary: Why not?
Orlando: Are you always so shrill?
Mary: Are you serious?
Orlando: Okay, Mary… as a man, I like to cut through all the chit-chat and get to the point. Bottom line this for me. If you were writing this article about the impact seeing “Wonder Woman” had on you and your thoughts on the workplace, what would you say?
Mary: I’d say, “Thank you to those responsible for giving us Wonder Woman as a role model. Sure, she had a lot to learn about our world. She didn’t know it all. She asked, listened, embraced new experiences and different perspectives. But she never wasted a single moment on self-doubt. And she didn’t pander. Her precious time was not spent trying to find just the right balance and approach to get others comfortable with dealing with a woman in her role. She just continued about her way to (spoiler alert) save the world…. as her authentic self.”
Orlando: I don’t get it.
Mary: No. No, you don’t.
Then, there was this awkward moment of silence, because… you know… Mary had made it weird by getting all emotional over all this woman stuff.
Finally, she spoke up.
Mary: But, hopefully, someday you will.
I’m still trying to make sense of this conversation. I mean… who wants to be their “authentic self” at work??? Women. Am I right? It’s no wonder this article didn’t get done.