Gender Protocol

At firstPRO Staffing and Executive Search, we were recently certified by the City of Atlanta’s Equal Business Opportunity Program (EBO) as a Female Business Enterprise (FBE).

Our certification as an FBE has also been a great marketing tool. While we have always been majority women-owned, we had never gone through this particular process. Over the years, however, several of our large clients encouraged us to get our certification, and last year we saw no reason to miss this opportunity. Companies who have made commitments to a diversity program or do business with the government set aside a certain percentage of their vendor business for minority-owned businesses, and our certification automatically puts us in that category.

As a woman business owner, I believe that gender protocol has evolved in many (albeit subtle) ways. Today, females are viewed more as individuals and defined more by the position they hold, their work ethic and performance results. Twenty years ago, however, we were still viewed simply as “women” and assumptions were made based on that fact. Male co-workers had difficulty not seeing us as females first, and were confused about how to treat us with respect as work peers. But as awareness has evolved, there are less off-color comments, sexual overtones and unacceptable, rude behavior. In regards to proper behavior and manners, I believe that the protocol for this should be gender-free as well. In other words, it is not a “ladies first” environment, although when it comes to ordering at a restaurant or getting off the elevator, it is still polite to allow women in the group to go first. As women, we need to make certain that we dress, speak and behave in a more neutral way.

At firstPRO, we work in a very results-oriented environment, and opportunities are created for individuals (not just women) based on those results. I do not believe that women can expect preferential treatment if they want to be taken seriously in the workplace.

By April Fawcett Nagel

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