It's good to see that more and more attention is being paid to issues regarding toxicity in the workplace. At the same time, people have started to wise up to the problems related to gender differences and the extra divide that comes from that direction. There has been a lot of research on the topic too, and one particular trend has started to materialize lately: it's becoming more and more clear that some men in high positions of authority have a tendency to let that power go to their heads, and they subsequently end up undermining the performance of their entire operations and let their businesses run into red.
Toxicity at the Workplace Can Happen at All Levels
Toxic behavior is not limited to low-ranking employees, rather it is quite on the contrary. Research from the Harvard Business Review, has shown that men, of a CEO position, tend to be more prone to developing and displaying such behavior. There have been instances of overconfidence from higher-ups resulting in the ruin of entire organizations, as shown by the latest research from Company Rescue which tell us that UK SMEs with men on the board are more likely to go bust. So how do we resolve this issue?
It's Not an Easy Problem to Tackle
It's a very complicated problem to address in the first place because it spans across multiple areas of the organization and requires a good approach to all of them. It's important to have good communication with the company's leadership, ensure that there are adequate channels for voicing concerns, and even then, you'll still have to deal with the problem that overconfident people tend to have issues with being confronted in the first place.
Don't be surprised if your feedback falls on deaf ears – it's an expected part of doing this. Be prepared to take some harsh measures as well. If you realize that the company is beyond saving, talk to insolvency practitioners, such as Company Rescue, to ensure that you have a smooth exit. They can give expert advice to guide you through the process.
Identifying Problematic Patterns
It's a good idea for an organization to know how to identify these patterns before they turn detrimental. From doing this, the toxic behavior can be addressed at its root instead of letting it fester. Ensure that employees have some way of reporting issues on this front. For example, if women have a problem tied to gender imbalance. Whenever an issue is identified, make sure to act on it as fast as possible. In this scenario, perhaps hiring more women could help?
All in all, overconfidence in the workplace rarely leads to anything productive. Dealing with it requires a determined approach and you must be prepared to face some resistance along the way. To maximise your company's chance of survival in the long run, ensure to pay attention to these issues and resolve them as soon as possible.
Photo courtesy of Brittany Netta; Photography by Jessielyn Palumbo
Is Miss America a walking contradiction to what our society expects of the modern young woman? Well, I am sure she is screaming a big fat yes from under her illustrious crown. Because it seems that some organizations cannot get behind the idea that an educated, respectable woman also has the ability to confidently strut her stuff in a swimsuit.
The Miss America Organization (MAO) is a "a non-profit scholarship organization led by women for women." Despite this fact, it seems that their female leadership has fallen for the antiquated notion of how a truly accomplished and intelligent woman should represent herself in today's society. In the #METOO era, have these female leaders progressed or regressed in their opinions when they equate a woman's intelligence to how modestly she dresses?
The answer to this question becomes painfully obvious when looking at recent events, specifically, MAO releasing a donor's misogynistic statement that "an educated woman does not parade around in a swimsuit." This donor, who gave money towards MAO scholarships (ironic, given the statement), was discussing why her parents would never allow her to compete in pageants. Although they have since apologized due to outrage among fans and alumni, this is a scene one's eyes cannot easily un-see.
And I say, regardless of the apology, "If you repeat it, you believe it." And that's exactly what MAO did.
For those who feel that this comment may have been taken out of context, I have two questions. Could this donor's motivation to fund these scholarships have anything to do with Miss America 2.0 eliminating the swimsuit portion of their competition only one year earlier? And, was The Miss America Organization, in sharing this statement, attempting to hail a righteous victory flag for what they believed to be the start of a successful new beginning for their now-swimsuit-less competition?
The Miss America Organization wants us to believe that the swimsuit portion of the competition was eliminated because a woman's outward physical appearance does not determine her intelligence in today's society. While that all sounds very progressive, it was simply not the motive that lead to this change. The truth about Miss America 2.0 is that they are really more concerned with updating their company's brand image in order to re-validate their place in a society that no longer values pageantry as it once did. But this resulted in little more than a pretentious façade.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was voted into office as the governor of California after years of competing in a thong on stage, but no one ever severely questioned his intelligence or ability to lead one of the nation's largest states. So why are we questioning the intellectual integrity of the women competing in Miss America today? That difference is a prime example of a double standard, and only proves we have a long way to go before true gender equality is achieved.
Consequently, I believe MAO completely missed the mark and made a huge mistake. They did not consider the broader message that their contestants send to women globally as they proudly strut in a swimsuit on national television. They forgot about the women who silently suffer from gender bias in the workplace and extreme oppression in many parts of the world who may be empowered by seeing a woman so boldly displaying herself with pride.
With that said, I'm not saying it's okay to disregard the standard dress code in the office, but women should be made to feel comfortable in embracing their sexuality and femininity in the appropriate settings. This should obviously include the Miss America stage, especially considering its rich history in their 100-year anniversary next fall.
Having competed in the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) for the past three years while working for one of the world's most admired technology companies and working towards achieving a Masters of Engineering, I can proudly say that the women who enter these competitions are some of the most disciplined, educated, and intelligent women around. Beauty and brains are not and never have been mutually exclusive.
The current Miss USA competed in a swimsuit portion of her competition, and she is also a Division One athlete as well as a practicing attorney. Miss America is an accomplished singer composer with a degree in music composition. Most of the young women who earn their state titles in MAO and MUO are highly educated, holding bachelors and master's degrees obtained by some of the most sought-after universities in the country.
Competing in MAO and MUO leave young women with wonderful professional skills, strict self-discipline, and an intense work ethic that have been a meaningful catalyst towards their careers. Furthermore, it can help elevate a woman's status nationwide to highlight many of her academic/career accomplishments through advocacy initiatives, philanthropy, and public appearances.
Instead of taking a progressive stance and believing in their contestant's intellectual fortitude to pave a path for the organization's future, MAO took the easy way out. They bowed to the antiquated notion that women's skin is inherently inappropriate. MAO holds a responsibility to celebrate how young women today choose to represent themselves —the true forward thinkers—whether they are prancing around in a swimsuit or dominating in a power suit.