I have a fabulous mentor based mostly in the USA and we are often in different time zones when we talk. One week it was afternoon for me and later in the evening for him. We had a great session and at the end he said “Well, I’m being called for dinner so I’d better go”.
I hung up with a book full of notes in front of me, excited about what we had discussed and raring to go and an odd thought occurred to me.
Instead of continuing on in the project I am so excited about, at some stage today, I will have to stop and not only prepare dinner, but decide what we are having, get ingredients from the shops, cook it and then probably clean up afterwards.
I thought to myself, he is so lucky, he gets to do what he loves, for a as long as he likes and someone else cooks for him.
This got me thinking about the reason why so many women are in business but not at the top of their game. There is an expectation that women have this range of natural skills that I believe are holding us back.
When I first started work, in a small insurance agency, it was completely expected that I could type. Of course there wasn’t any typing test, there was just this expectation.
As a woman it was also expected that I could answer phones and file, do my job and take care of the household.
There's a joke about a woman who ran her business from home, saying to her husband on evening; “Righto then, I’m off to bed” to which her husband says “I’ll be there in a minute”. He stays put on the couch, she gets up and goes to the kitchen, cleans up the dishes, gets the lunchboxes ready for the morning and feeds the cat, gets washing out of the dryer and folds it, picks up school books and takes the folded laundry to the cupboard, pops the school books into the bags, checks on the kids, collects some dirty clothing and puts it in the laundry bin, goes to her desk and sends off a quick email to a client, writes her to do list for tomorrow, checks her diary to confirm meetings, shuts down the laptop, puts the phone on charge, goes to the bathroom, to brush her teeth and replaces the toilet roll, hangs up a towel, cleans the sink, gets undressed and is getting into bed, where her husband is already half asleep and he says “I thought you were going to bed?”.
If you are a women in business with a family or you work from home, I can imagine you smiling and nodding as you read this!
My thought is this. As a woman business owner, I can either cry victim, stomp my feet and make it clear someone else has to pull their weight in the household, simply go on strike and stop doing it, or use it as motivation!
Get organised, manage it better; cook in bulk so it's easier for someone else to heat-and-eat, have a list of family chores, share the load so that I can get quality time to do what I love in my business. Block out the work and home time in my diary. Treat the entire home/work balance as if it is one big organisation and you are the CEO - after all, that's what you are!
As Margaret Thatcher once said, “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.”
What if your home was run the same as an office, where the expectation was that everyone pulled their weight and worked as a team and someone else came in at night to tidy up the mess?
Maybe the first step to getting ahead in your business ladies, is to hire a cleaner!