He's a Good Guy!

It seems appropriate that I talk about the "Good Guy" on International Women's Day. Don't know who the "Good Guy" is? Well, let me tell you.

It's this person that exists in organisations. And they are a guy in the truest sense of the word. A man. Not the collective term "guys" which could mean a group of men and women. It's just the men. I probably have noticed the "Good Guy" phenomenon more because I have worked in lots of male dominated industries and organisations. I am often the only woman in the room so I think I can talk from some sort of experience.

The "Good Guy" is generally not that great at their job, actually that's not fair. Some aren't great but they usually have some really good attributes, and to go with them they have some significant development areas. Some have great potential teamed with significant career de-railers.  But they usually survive, because they are a "Good Guy".

We are all good at some things, not great at others but I'm talking about larger extremes than your average person.

The term "Good Guy" is used in sentences like "yeah.....but he is a Good Guy!" or "he's a really good guy" usually said in defence of a conversation about the person's significant limitations and the issues or challenges they are creating in the organisation. The term is only used by men about other men which somehow infers that they are one of them. Part of the group, the pack. The term humanises the "guy" and makes us realise that we are dealing with humans and that no one is perfect. And that's ok and organisations need "Good Guys". Not all of them, but some. Harsh but true.

The real issue I have with "The Good Guy" is that there is no like term for women. Do you ever hear someone say "she is a great chick?" Well no because it may be offensive and, well, just no. What about "but she is a good woman"? Ever heard that? Nope. I did have one male manager describe one of my direct reports as a "Good Egg". He meant it in a positive good way, but still..... it's not the same as "Good Guy" is it?

How do we humanise women in the workplace when they are demonstrating good attributes but significant development areas? Some of the terms I have heard include; "quirky" and "inconsistent", maybe "emotional" or "challenging"...often these are negative and not humanising. And how do Women indicate that other women are part of the same group, the women tribe, part of something greater? I'm just not sure that exists, and that perhaps, is the real problem.

I don't think the solution to diversity is to bash men in organisations. Far from it, but we need to work out a way to humanise and celebrate the contribution that women make, and work out how they are part of the group that is somehow to be protected in the same way the "Good Guys" are.

So to all the fabulous women who are forging their way, happy International Women's Day! #pledgeforparity