People & Human Resources

Do men need business networking groups?

Fi Bendall /

Everywhere you look, you see vibrant networks for women, women gathering, discussing and sharing business with one another. What’s up with the guys?

There doesn’t seem to be any kind of similar male networking group, such as Business Chicks, or Women’s Network Australia or Women as Entrepreneurs and so on.

It probably doesn’t help when you read the crap that flowed out of Evan Thornley’s mouth that seems to percolate in the minds of men about us silly women working for less. Maybe we also waste our time networking and supporting each other, being ditzy and discussing how we can earn less than men, while being more effective.

However, I did get wind the other day of a new male network group being started almost James Bond-style with a code being shared to recruit members by members. I guess you can’t take the boy out of the man. I must admit though, I thought, at last! A Men’s Shed…for men in business.

If these guys can share and network in a way women can, they may be able to share better views on gender equality. We may be able at last to have some visibility and sensibility around the whole gender issue that is still knocking around in Australia. Most of the men I know, passionately believe in female equality and many of the female partners of these men earn more than them.

It is surprising that in Australia we are still having the debate on gender equality. Having worked in both London and New York, gender inequality was never an issue in my career. I felt completely on a par with my male peers, was treated as such and often I earned more money than them, as opposed to the other way round. Earnings and promotions were based on output and outcomes, not gender – it is a pretty simple calculation to follow.

Here in Australia, we have gender equality being led by 20 Male Champions of Change. I am sure we females could be the champions of ourselves, we are not little women! There are in fact despite all the noise, some very senior business women responsible for employing many people, who could be the Female Champions for Change. But even better would be a mix of male and female “Champions for Change”. Or we could just forget about all the champions and get on with doing and being in the right mindset when it comes to gender.

The constant debate should stop, the rubbish coming out of Evan’s mouth and anyone like him should stop, and be unacceptable. The thing that should start right now is mutual respect of genders in the workplace, in the salary stakes and in the boardroom. What is needed is action, positive action, and getting on with it, not meaningless words.

A good place to start is with getting involved with SME networks in your local area. One good example of this is the Village, which is proving to be a home from home for many SME business events in Sydney’s north.

Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.

 

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Fi Bendall

Fi Bendall is chief executive of The Bendalls Group and a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence, who was described by CEO Magazine as 'The CEO's Secret Weapon'. An expert and pioneer in digital strategy, she has over 23 years’ experience in the digital and tech sectors.

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