If I had $100 for every time I heard “Why can’t women get along at work?” … I, alone, could shrink the gender pay gap.
Ambition Over Integrity
First, let me apologize to the first group of women I ever worked with in a professional environment.
So Tracey, Diane, Celines, Ellen, and Jaime,
I am sorry. I acted like a catty bitch… like a lot.
I valued the “corporate ladder” over our relationships.
I chose ambition over integrity.
I was a hungry 23 year-old (literally & figuratively) from the Midwest who took a random receptionist job to pay bills (and eat) in the suburbs of NYC. The office was male-owned & operated. I was hired by the only female manager in company.
She was about 15 years older than me and very well-versed in the workplace ecosystem. But she was good to me. We clicked immediately. Me — an eager naive sponge from Kansas, and her — a scrappy, street-smart mentor from New York.
It worked well until ambition blinded me.
I learned fast, worked hard, and eventually was asked to step into her management role. The transition was informal and poorly communicated, and resulted in a female emotional uproar.
Suddenly, women were reverting to survival tactics learned in high school like gossiping, choosing sides, building damaging narratives, and plain-old “Mean Girl” behavior.
Clawing Our Way to the Top
Every work environment in my 20+ year career has been filled with similar situations. Women, acting like mean girls — throwing each other under the bus for a chance to sit in the C-Suite.
Women can have meaningful, no-strings-attached, mutually fulfilling friendships in our personal lives. Yet, put two female friends in a work environment, and we will claw each other’s eyes out for professional gain.
Leaving me to admit, “Why can’t women get along at work?”
(See? $100 right there. Told you, this is easy money!)
No, but seriously. What’s our deal, women?
It’s a question that has plagued me my entire career. It has also been a pattern I’ve heard through the Pink Mentor Network. Women are seeking mentorship outside of their organizations because they don’t trust or respect the women within it.
I’ve heard stories of teachers treating each other like children, nurses acting awful to peers, and the most unprofessional female office behaviors.
These toxic work environments led me to the following conclusion:
Women claw each other’s eyes out on the way to the top because there are so few opportunities for us to get there.