Double standards piss me off. Whether it is the fact that a woman in the same position as a male is paid on average 21% less. Or how a male could be severely punished for a crime he commits, while a female is likely to receive a much lower conviction, if at all. Double standards are everywhere. I’ve experienced double standards numerous times in my business. Whether it was when the bank gave my ex a $45,000 business loan when he had no business plan or financials records. And it took me over $1 million dollars in sales and a solid business plan that was submitted yearly to get basically the same amount. Or how I can give a male advice for his dog and not be taken seriously, but he will walk to the other end of the room and listen to my fiancé Kris give the exact same advice, and then I watch the client apply it with enthusiasm.
I’ve been able to accept and utilize some of this, but it is still happening too often. I’ve been appalled at how poorly people respond to a female that is driven, makes her own decisions and creates her own life. Within this post, I am going to speak more of my own experience, but I see this happening all the time to women everywhere. I’ve even caught myself doing this. This post is not about complaining with what has happened to me personally. I love who I am, what I do and would not trade in any of my experiences as they have shaped who I have become. Instead, I want to share my personal experiences to demonstrate what a struggle we create for each other and the impact our actions can have.
We have created a world where females must conform to society’s rules, and if they do not, they are often ridiculed, judged and gossiped about. In a majority of these same situations, if it had been a male, we would be praising them. Or how a strong woman with fair opinions and assertiveness is viewed as bossy or threatening. While things may be slowly changing, double standards need to end and I am going to share a few ways the exist, what we do to cause them and what we can do to change. I am speaking in terms of female entrepreneurs, but these apply to any female.
Stand by your Decisions
This applies to everyone, but women typically struggle more with this. To make it worse, when they do make a decision, it is almost guaranteed someone will not only judge or criticize it, but also assume it was with ill-intent and they are being bossy, bitchy or any other derogative term we may use to describe a female in this position. Part of being an entrepreneur is making hard decisions. You may have to cut back on costs, end programs, lower wages or let go of team. Or you may have an underperforming employee you need to remove. Or you may need to choose not to implement a new system the team are pushing for. Whatever the reason, you make the decision based on what is best for the business. And this sometimes means that you are making decisions not everyone will understand or you know they will be unhappy with. Regardless, you made the decision for the overall business. Stand by this decision and remind yourself why you made it. Even when others are jumping to conclusions or providing a different version.
One of my hardest decisions I had to make was to remove one of my longest employees who had become a close friend. I agonized over it for months and provided ample opportunity for this person to improve. I kept everything private, desperately wanted them to succeed and kept modifying their position to help them. After multiple demotions and putting them on final notice the time came to release them. It was becoming unfair to myself, my team and my person and my business was suffering because of it. It was incredibly stressful and took a tremendous toll on me. I then witnessed how many people jumped out to support this person and assume the worst from us. Why would this be? Do you think I would have got the same reaction had I been male? I can’t help but feel that people would not have taken it so personally. There are always things I would change from a hard lesson. But the one main thing I would have done differently would have been to do it sooner. It may have been my hardest one, but it has been my greatest lesson to date. Keep your chin up, ignore the hate and know that it always works out for the best. Stick to it.
The next time you feel the need to judge someone for a decision, trust that this person has good reason for it and it may be information that you are not entitled to. If they have demonstrated that they are intelligent, fair and compassionate, why would we assume the worst? Our world is full of this idea that people are intentionally behaving a way to upset others. Step back and respect people’s decisions and mind your own business.
Once you have made your decision, do not apologize. I think this is something women are far more likely to do, especially if your decision upsets others. Apologizing only makes it looks like you are questioning your decision. You are not sorry for your decision, you are sorry it makes others uncomfortable or upset. And unfortunately, many decisions you are going to have to make will not be good for everyone. Do not focus on the people who may be uncomfortable with it, but rather focus on why you are making the decisions and who it will benefit in the long run. Look at the big picture.
This is very important if you have team. I have high expectations for my team in order for us to deliver the excellence that I have built my business on. I found myself worrying about delivering this message and that perhaps I was expecting too much from others. However, I have built a core team that not only understands and strives to deliver this excellence, they improve upon it and are grateful for the opportunity. I learned to stop apologizing for my expectations and be proud of what I was building. Those expectations are a large part of our success.
I came to the realization that if it were a male who released poor performing team while building a successful business, that people would admire and respect this. They would appreciate that he has built a business based on excellence. Instead, others assume women have done something wrong or call her a bitch.
I have learned to stop apologizing for upsetting others. I realized the people I felt I had to apologize to were the same ones who had caused damage to my business or were not truly supportive. The affect of a negative or poor performing employee affects my entire team, the dogs we care for and our clients. I owe far more to all of them then I do to the one person that this affects negatively. It is ok to make a decision that may upset others if you are taking care of the greater good, have been fair and are not doing anything will ill-intent. You do not need to apologize for it or explain it. We truly do attract what we put out, so remove anything that affects you or your business adversely. Your organization will thrive and grow because of these decisions.
Put on a Brave Face and a Smile
This is the hardest part of being a leader. No matter how worried, angry, resentful or upset you may feel, you must keep your emotions in check. Your behaviour is a direct reflection of your team and your business, and unfortunately, as a female you will have far more critics watching how you behave. The double standard exists and is shown daily through mainstream media and how we respond to females who make mistakes or are struggling. They are called names, ridiculed and worse. If a woman responds to something negatively or with emotion, many are quick to judge as well.
At times, I feel like many people are just waiting for successful people to make a mistake and are actually wanting them to fail. I know this exists for everyone, but there are far more people out to judge females quickly, and unfortunately many of them are other women. So how do you deal with this if you are a female entrepreneur who is feeling judged, criticized or struggling to get through a hard time when you feel everyone is waiting (hoping) for you to trip up? Stand tall, put on your brave face, smile and just keep putting out positivity. Hard times are part of owning a business and be sure you have good support with friends, family, other business owners and/or a mentor. At these times, others are waiting for you to react poorly. Do not stoop to their level, you are better than this. Focus on the good and remind yourself what you did to get here. This too shall pass and you want others to remember how well you handled it, even if you are terrified on the inside or desperately wanting to lash out.
Do What Makes YOU Happy
Life is short. Do what you love and do what makes you happy. I had many nay-sayers when I first set out to open dogma. People were unsure of the business model and felt like I was taking on too much. I observed many people who were miserable in their current work and very unhappy with life. I did not want this and knew that in order for me to avoid this I needed to be responsible for my future. So, I set out to do what made me happy, not what society told me to do.
Safety is not about conforming to expectations. I was unhappy in a marriage so I ended it. And it was incredibly hard and stressful. However, I received little support and struggled to understand why. Looking back, people can be uncomfortable when others make decisions to make themselves happy. And yes, these decisions may hurt people, but as long as you know it is the best for everyone and can sleep well at night, life is too short not to make these decisions. And this is harder on women as we are still expected to take care of others first. Remember that taking care of yourself and making yourself happy is what allows you to do more for others. Surround yourself with people that understand this.
Ladies, we can be the worst for not doing this for each other. Supporting, encouraging and celebrating others successes is the best way to destroy the double standard. Respect and trust others decisions. Be proud of the females that are making changes and being successful. I cringe at how often females assume the worst in other females. It has been disheartening to see how my relationships have changed as I have experienced more success. It has been one of my hardest lessons and I want to ensure we change this.
Give females the same level of respect and admiration we give males. If she is running a successful business and removes an employee, it is because the employee was not a good fit for the business, not because she is a bitch. If there is gossip about her and/or her business that seem untrue or unlike what they or their business is built on, let’s not contribute and participate in this negativity. Let’s instead recognize her high standards and be proud of her for building a successful business. And if she is successful and doing well, let’s celebrate that and commend her for it. We are all human. We are all doing the best with what we have. Women, let’s stop contributing to the double standard and support each other. We still have a lot to offer, are changing the world and our daughters of the future deserve better.
Have other examples or experiences to share? Feel strongly about this and just need to vent? Be sure to comment below.
Does this strike a chord with you and you want to see it change? Follow the above and please share and spread the word. Let’s show the world what a powerful force we are when we all work together.