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respect in business

Respect in Business

Respect in business is critical. But, time and time again, off-the-cuff sexual harassment erodes it entirely. One of my colleagues asked me ‘People are saying that there will be a plethora of sexual harassment claims now that the Mark McInnes/David Jones case has been settled – especially given the Christmas season is upon us; what do you think?’

I responded: the case and the embarrassment caused to an iconic Australian retailer is the biggest wake-up call to any leadership team. This type of behaviour is not going to be tolerated. Leadership teams simply cannot afford the brand damage and the loss of reputation… even if that person is performing in their job if they are inappropriate to a colleague then by definition that person is not an ‘A’ grader. To be an ‘A’ grader is a total package – treating all those around them with respect is essential.

The lesson to be learned is one of respect. Respect your colleagues, work place and the brand.

Earlier in the week, I had been at an educational event put on for entrepreneurs by one of the media groups… I listened intently to the two self-made men sharing their growth stories.

One of these men is on the BRW young rich list and has quite a media profile… the first question of him was ‘Do you use a PR agency and how do you handle your publicity?’ His response ‘I interviewed a number of people for the PR role – the first was a 26 attractive blonde woman – and I thought to my self, now that would be a nice person to have around [Nudge Nudge] (we got his innuendo) – then I interviewed an older guy who had been around the traps and done it all. Whilst the blonde looked fabulous I went for the older guy.’

Was this presenter really trying to impress us? He only saw the female candidate for her physical attributes. He discriminated against her because she was attractive. (Well that is the way he made it sound to the group – and if he was just trying to be funny – well he wasn’t). I have some very attractive colleagues – and I have watched men in meetings speak slower to them because they think if a woman is attractive then surely they could not be smart as well.

Then later in the day, I was chatting with another group at a different event – and one man was bemoaning that a board that he chaired had one female representative. And this woman always ran late. He felt he couldn’t bring this to her attention – because she was the only woman in the group. Go figure. Since when do we get a different set of rules because we wear a dress. Next he will think that ‘all women run late’ so he doesn’t want any more females on his boards… (As if no men have been ever late and men wouldn’t be tarred with the same brush).

Anyway I’ve had my rant….  A little bit more respect could help us all – and keep lot’s of organizations out of court.

Reader Interactions


  1. Without attending the seminar, it sounds like the presenter was trying to make the point that experience pays. whether your a young female or an older campaigner, experience pays in the long run. I don’t think he was consciously being disrespectful to young, attractive women.

    You have done so well for yourself and you are female. Why let this stuff get to you? You should just laugh at it and move on because if he was disrespectful and demeaning he won’t survive in business as it is in 2010.

  2. HI Elliot,

    You are quite right I did laugh – unfortunately not with him. My point is that many blokes don’t realize when they are offensive and where the line needs to be drawn. And I use these points to illustrate it. You can be assured that I don’t have a chip on my shoulder – and it definitely doesn’t ‘get’ to me. How sad for that young man – that his personal profile is impacted by his own naivete… and I think it is naive – I am sure he had no intention of offending. But if we don’t let him know – how will he ever learn, because as you said he won’t survive.

    So this stuff does not ‘get to’ me – but as a leader who supports young people (male and female) in their growth and development – is it not my job as a wise old one to hold the mirror up – and say ‘no good enough – you need to learn a lesson here.’? After all the purpose of writing this blog is sharing what I’ve learned.

    Good to hear your thoughts – appreciated.

  3. Hey Naomi,
    I was there with at this “presentation” and I too was mortified. I’ve been discriminated against not only by what I look like, but also my age. As a young entrepreneur I have been belittled on a regular basis for being “young” and told often “ahh isn’t that cute” by old boys clubs and so called “leadership forums”.

    When I search for suppliers and supporters for my businesses, I always search for passion, knowledge, and a “spark” that will drive my suppliers to succeed with me, because as we all know, if I’m making money – so are they.

    I find it interesting that we are still focussed on the “old hat” and “time in industry” as the “experienced” ones. Virility, enthusiasm, willingness to learn and humility beats tenure any day in my opinion no matter their age or their gender.

    Good on you for posting this. I hope he learns from this. Then again, he may not think you know what you’re talking about seeing you’re a foxy young marketing type. 😉

  4. Hi Naomi,
    As a last minute gift buyer i recently came across your site, and loved the concept. My ex partner and I would always buy each other experience gifts for our birthdays and Christmas etc. Our trips have included holidays, ski trips, broadway shows and sporting events. My only regret is that i have finished my Christmas shopping this year before i discovered your site! Will definately be back in the new year for ideas.

    And, as a fellow female in business and marketing, I am in awe at your accomplishments. What a fantastic idea – you are so ingenious to have come up with the concept. If you ever start up operations in Melbourne, let me know ; i’d love to work with you! Last year i was also after a large scale gift hamper service just like this for a corporate project, I have since left that role and wish i’d discovered your site then too.I can already imagine tons of emerging markets for new business for this kind of concept; you should definately look at marketing and business development more to the events sector, such as tix to broadway shows, concerts etc. You should also look at building the gift hamper side of the business, there is huge demand for this in the corporate world…. I wish you all the best.

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