December 8, 2011

Mary’s tears

Many years ago I was attending in USA the annual meeting of a company that we were representing. In his opening speech the chairman thanked about 10 people by separately calling out their names for their contributions in the preparation of the meeting. During the first break I went outside the hotel to get some air and saw Mary, working in the sales department of the company, crying there. When I asked her about the reason for her tears, she said that she had organized this meeting but the chairman didn’t mention her name in his speech. She said, “In this country women do not carry any real value in the business world.”

Many years later when we started our consulting work in M&A projects, I remembered Mary in some of the discussions I had with our clients. Specially in the family businesses it is possible to deduce the way female employees are evaluated in the company by viewing the behavior of the boss. In a specific case, I even saw that the owner was projecting his anger concerning his divorce on the female employees.

The subject of female employees is not the most important issue for the managers of potential prospects, who are thinking of buying the shares of our clients. However, at least before they proceed with the acquisition they consider the number of female employees and how they are treated.

I didn’t talk with Mary about this subject again but I listened to a lot of complaints from various female managers. I have worked with many females in my business life, and I must say that I have found most of them to perform better in their jobs than their male colleagues.

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