“More Women Oriented” (Or: Ignorance creates a talentless environment)

December 28, 2007

Sometimes, I’m moved to blog because I am reminded of how unfair the world is. I suppose it’s something that most people are already aware of, but I usually forget that most of the world isn’t as enlightened as most of the people who I’m lucky to associate with on a daily basis.

This morning, my friend Jason twittered about Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk getting fired from Yahoo. Now, that in itself isn’t that big a deal. People lose jobs all the time. It was when I read the entry that I found this wonderful quote:

Here’s what my boss’s boss’s boss said: “You should write for Lifestyles. That is more women oriented.”

This is a senior manager at a major public company. And I know that this happens. A friend of mine was once fired from a similarly major corporation because she reported sexual harassment.

But this is 2007, and it’s ridiculous that we still have to put up with this ignorance and stupidity in the world. The thing about it is, it’s Yahoo’s loss. Penelope is brilliant, funny and a wonderful thinker when it comes to careers. And she’s going to land on her feet, because she’s so talented.

But if companies like Yahoo continue to treat their talent like this, soon enough, they won’t have any talent. Their short-term ignorance will cost them the talent.

This is why these companies are having such trouble attracting the young “GenNext” employees. More and more, the people who are under-30s today are looking for places that respect the talent around them. This often appears to be a “sense of entitlement” to the old fogeys (yes, I just called everybody older than 35 a fogey). But it isn’t… it’s about respect for skill and talent.

And the understanding that disrespecting someone’s talent because of what they look like, how they dress, or their gender is stupid and shouldn’t be rewarded.

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One Response to ““More Women Oriented” (Or: Ignorance creates a talentless environment)”

  1. Old Fogey on December 28th, 2007 12:21 pm

    Although I agree that the “women-oriented” comment was WAY out of line, and said more about the boss^3 than about her, I have to disagree with your generalization. By definition, “sense of entitlement” means that they expect things not because they merit them, but just because they feel entitled to them. As an employer, I’m very happy to recognize talent in whatever form it appears, and to reward it, but “young” does not in and of itself equal “talented.” Some Gen-Nexters are very sharp, and you can see in the headlines that it’s being recognized by virtue of their successes, but often having a “new idea” just means you haven’t had enough experience to recognize it as an old (and bad) idea.

    Giving bad advice is a perfectly valid reason to get fired from writing a column. We may never know precisely why PT was fired, but let’s not cling to the tired canards associated with “challenging the status quo” or “telling people what they didn’t want to hear” or “Gen X,Y,Z vs. The Over-35 Set.” If we’re going to speculate that she was fired for a sexist reason, let’s also leave open the possibility that she was fired for her performance, or lack thereof. She deserves the respect of having her work evaluated for what it is, not for the chromosome set or age that it came from.

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