OK, sharp intake of breath as a I write this one. If you follow me on Twitter, you might be aware of my exchange last week with the VP of Communities at the Financial Times, in response to the new ‘helpful filter’ that the FT have introduced to help women find articles relevant to them on the business pages (in case you’re wondering, you can find this site at ft.com/women). The view of the FT is that women are a minority group in business, and ought to be represented as such. So, what do we think about that?
I feel inherently uneasy about separating women from men when it comes to business – to me, it implies that women aren’t tough enough to compete with the boys, and this is fundamentally untrue. It’s as if the FT think that women aren’t brave enough to tackle all of the news; that we need our own soft play area within which to celebrate that HSBC has a woman on their board. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s entirely positive that women are making their mark on the workplace – but in making it such a big deal, it tells the world that a woman entering the boardroom is still newsworthy. In my opinion, a woman getting a certain high profile job is no more or less interesting than a man getting the job – it should all be about the person best suited for the role, not their gender.
Personally, I feel that the way to break down the minority divides is to ignore the existence of a minority at all. Let’s forget about gender – we’re all just people doing business. Have I felt that I need to work harder to prove myself as a young woman in business? Absolutely I have. Has it stopped me from progressing in my career? Hell no. It’s all about attitude.
Yes, there are still parts of the world where women are significantly marginalised, and that’s an argument for another day. But here in the UK, treating women as a minority group is just Not On.