Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

Loneliness and Loners – IV. Loneliness at the Top

There is one more aspect of loneliness (somewhat unrelated to the previous sections) which I wish to discuss.

A leader will always tell you that the top can be a lonely place. At least for a man there is the solace of being surrounded by other men. A woman, on the other hand, can find the top a very lonely and desolate place. This is because, few women have reached the top echelons, both in the political and the corporate worlds. Many women in leadership positions are uncomfortable. Indeed, the corporate world is beginning to have a problem retaining its female executives.

I raise two questions here. Why is the top a lonely place? When you have to take a difficult decision you take it alone. You can gather as many facts as time permits. You can consult many other people. But when decision time comes you are alone. I am not only referring to the top executive; even at a lower level you are expected to take many difficult decisions. If you can’t, you will not be an executive for long!

The second question (and the reason why I am writing this section) is why is that feeling of loneliness magnified for a woman? Because she is not surrounded by enough women. I admit that my answer contradicts what I just said, namely that when decision time comes you are alone. But let me relate to you a personal experience; then you will understand. Whether you agree with my conclusion or not is another matter.

This experience appeared insignificant at the time. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it put a different light, at least in my own mind, on the relations between the sexes. On March 7th, 1995, I attended an all-day conference in honor of International Women’s Week. The presentations were interesting and I took notes to help me in the writing of my book, Equal Partners. I had looked forward to this day, and yet, early on, I had a vague sense of uneasiness which grew as the morning progressed. By noon I left, even though after lunch there was a presentation which I would have liked to attend.

In time, I realized what had happened. The large audience included a handful of males. Thus I was lost in a “sea of skirts.” A man surrounded by so many women is supposed to feel grand, right? Wrong. The normal sexual attraction did not operate under these conditions. For the first time, I could relate to the small number of women who have reached the top either in politics or business. Not only was the climb difficult, but once they reached the top, they found themselves lost in a “sea of suits.” At least for a while, they must have been as uncomfortable as I was. In time I can assume, rightly or wrongly, that they got used to it.

Is there a need for a certain “concentration” of members of your own sex when you are in a crowd? Are the sexes two solitudes in need of a sufficient number of their own to mix, and function effectively, with the opposite sex? The answer to these questions based on my lone experience, and the experience of women who had reached the top, is yes.

For a long time, the corporate world didn’t give a hoot as to whether female executives were happy or unhappy in their jobs. All of a sudden there is a new phenomenon in the corporate universe. The world is changing; the pool of capable people from which executives can be drawn is shrinking. The male leadership in corporations seems to be asking women: “Why are you walking out on us when we need you the most?” Where were they when women executives were considered dispensable?

Now that I got that off my chest, I will be more positive. For women to be happy and stay in their jobs, there is a need for more women at the top, much more. Of course, it will take time to reach a critical mass; the damage created by years of neglect cannot be repaired overnight.

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