Saturday, August 06, 2011

Business Acu(wo)men [2 of 2]

I'd like to start this post by doing a little explaining: I didn't write my previous article with the attention of starting a 'witch-hunt' against Melody, Jim, or any of the other candidates. I've seen some horrible things that have been written about all of the candidates and I didn't want to add to the slurry - merely point out that in a business sense, their actions were verging on the unscrupulous and I felt it unfair that Melody was praised by Lord Sugar for behaviour that didn't differentiate much from Jim's.

Speaking of bullying, why don't you go have a look at this delightful page, courtesy of charming tabloid paper The Mirror? It involves Susan Ma, this series' youngest candidate, and some pictures of her partying it up during her University days. According to the tabloid it is "hardly the image of someone hoping to win...[sic] and become Lord Sugar's business partner". So it's OK to judge her by these pics, taken before she went onto The Apprentice? Don't you think she worked hard, as well as playing hard? Just because of a few (rather tame) pics of her partying, that means she's not worthy to take up a serious challenge.

So on one hand we've got Melody getting away with it, and on the other hand Susan getting an (albeit pathetic) media backlash.

Now, I don't think that it's because Melody's a woman. I have been comparing Melody's behaviour to Jim's, and while there are some similarities, Melody hasn't actually done any out-and-out bullying like Jim has. Yes, she perverted the truth to suit her, but she also followed through on her product choice, making the most sales.

Now, I asked for your feedback and there was a good response. Nomi points out: "[Melody wouldn't have got away with lying if] her two male team mates not been the sweetest, most unassuming men in the process this year."

This reminds me of a story I heard from two different friends: one was a guy who worked in a predominantly male office. He told me that his office was a "boy's club", and spoke of the lengths a female co-worker had to go to in order to make herself heard: shouting people down in meetings, taking credit for herself first before anyone else could muscle in on her ideas - in short, the type of behaviour Melody (along with many other Apprentice candidates) has previously shown. He couldn't work out whether it had been unnecessary behaviour; he himself admitted that if she wanted to speak, he'd give her a chance, but in an environment filled with other boisterous characters, how else could she be heard? On the other hand, I have a female friend who is very happy in her work environment - despite being one of only two girls she is a valued team member, her level of expertise is above some of her colleagues and they still treat her with the respect she deserves. Also, she often kicks their asses at Call Of Duty quite often.

I read a feature in a recent edition of a women's magazine about crying, and how it's the last bastion for some women. One of the girls described that all she had to do to get out of a missed deadline was screw up her face and sob "H-H-He said I looked fat last night" and the boss would take the whole team to Wetherspoons for lunch. I've cried at work during a meeting, and it was the single most humiliating experience of my life. Other colleagues of mine have seen my boss cry, and said it wasn't particularly a strong moment. Crying is not a tool: for most women rather than being a defence mechanism it's the sign that they've run out of defences. How would you react if a female colleague began to cry? At the meeting in question I was with my male boss, and he looked incredibly uncomfortable (considering I've also fainted on the poor guy he's had a lot thrown at him in recent months!)

It was good to see Tom win The Apprentice this year. While he might have been the weakest link for the majority of tasks, he came up with strong ideas to add to Lord Sugar's repertoire and he knew how to interpret feedback from a research team. Melody looks to still be going strong, and good luck to her - she may be out for herself, but perhaps in certain business environments it is good to have one eye on your own back.