No ladies in the board room… Please!!!



Meet our Agony Aunt Ego. Like most women there are two sides to Ego. Let’s call her warm side Lady Ego the good girl who could very much be your pastor’s wife or the dotting big sister you never had. She’s loving, level headed, polite, pleasant, always diplomatic, and sympathetic. She’s the voice of reason most of us need when we run into the complexities of life. She sees the good in everybody and every situation. Lady Ego is a true lady every woman would be proud to call their friend, every man would want to marry and every mother in law prays into the family. Now meet Ego-pepper! She’s the life of the party. The friend you need to have on speed dial when you “need to get them before they get you!” A street wise savvy mama with loads of tricks up her sleeves. She’s simply a sharp girl who is up for every challenge and never goes home with her tail between her legs. Join Lady Ego and Ego-pepper each month as they take on your issues and give you their heartfelt advice. Members of the DW Community will get a chance to vote for their preferred solution to your dilemma and share their experiences with you. Indeed a problem shared is a problem solved in the DW Community. Diamond Woman…. Every Woman!!!


Dear Ego, I am an Architect by profession which is still largely a male dominated industry. I have been with my firm for over 19 years and I was patiently waiting and hoping to become a partner soon. Partnership is confirmed every 5 years and I was next in line giving the longevity of my employment. My hopes were dashed when I was denied partnership, rather my male colleague who had spent only 14 years with the firm was made partner instead of me. When I asked why I wasn’t made partner, I was told that I was a good employee but that the firm hadn’t yet decided to make women partners considering the nature of the industry. Apparently, they are worried a female partner might affect their competitive edge in the industry. This is not fair at all, and my question is, “do women really stand a chance in the board room in corporate organizations? Pray Tell…Titi O.

Dear Titi,
I am so sorry you did not get the promotion even though you deserved it. It is rather unfortunate that some corporate organizations still view gender as a basis for assessing capacity and conferring responsibilities however, some organizations have moved past this and have women occupying key management positions.

I personally love this quote “If a woman is sufficiently ambitious, determined and gifted, there is practically nothing she can’t do” – Helen Lawrenson

You clearly have ambition to even aspire to become partner, you are determined which is why you have been at the same firm for 19 years and you are gifted otherwise you wont have the ambition and determination, so really there is nothing you can’t do! I also commend your ability to actually ask why you weren’t given the post. A lot of other people would have looked the other way and acted like all was well. I suggest you speak to your direct boss and communicate the reservations you have about the decision so they can have a rethink not only for you but for all the other female architects in your firm aspiring to become partner. If they are not willing to budge then you have to make a decision:

1) Do you want to remain at this firm, knowing you may never actualise your dream of becoming partner if your board is not willing to change their position on the issue? Would you be personally fulfilled remaining in the firm and possibly never making partner?

2) Do you want to scout around for another firm that is more gender friendly and where your skills can be properly harnessed and work your way up the ladder there?

Remember you have 19 solid years of experience behind you to help you land a great bargain in the new place. The choice is yours. Just remember that the limits we see in front of us are usually just an illusion. We are counting on you to make us all proud and pave the way for other female architects, regardless of what you decide! Keep Sparkling, and keep loving what you do!

All the best!
Lady Ego

Dear Titi,
I need you to be honest with me. At any point in your 19 long years at this firm, did you ever tell your employers that you are Chiwetel Ejiofor’s sister?!  No?! Ok, so…why do they want to use you to film Part 2 of ‘12 Years a Slave’?!! …eh?!

Personally, I don’t think you should spend another 5 years (24 years in total!) “patiently waiting and hoping to make partner” at this firm!

It’s illegal slavery!

I have to be honest with you I found your email very upsetting on so many levels.  First of all I find it very sad that in 2014 any employer would boldly admit to gender bias in the workplace.  This shows a blatant disrespect for equality in the workplace and needless to say a total lack of commitment to helping employees contribute their best efforts to the organization…but that’s their problem!

I am more concerned with your attitude to the situation.  In your email you state that you have “been patiently waiting and hoping to become a partner” quite frankly I think this is where you lost the battle to get promoted. Ones career should be pro-actively planned and managed and never left to chance.

Now that your employers have made it clear to you that there is no room for you to progress in their organization I think it is well overdue that you take absolute control of your career and give yourself the opportunity to be fully appreciated as a seasoned architect.  Consider starting your own firm!  How?! I am glad you asked…

1. Weigh your options:Because you have a lengthy career I would like to believe that you have a healthy savings reserve.  Consider investing in yourself and start your own architectural firm.  Start small and grow.  If you don’t have the money to start your own business put a plan in place to save enough money or consider taking a loan and then make the jump.

2. Get your ducks in a row: BILLS ARE REAL!!! So, start talking to clients that you have a good rapport with and let them know that you are planning to start your own firm and sound them out to see if they will be willing to throw some business your way.  Try not to burn your bridges with your employers.  Make nice and leave on good terms with your dignity intact.  Let them know that you are leaving to start your own ‘small’ business and that you would be happy to act as a sub-contractor to them where possible.  They have used you well so don’t miss out on the opportunity to use them now! (Personally, I Ego Pepper NEVER make enemies with anyone who can increase my bank balance!)

3.Build your old girls network:  The challenges we face are designed to give others opportunities.  Now that you know how lonely it is to be a female in a male dominated industry create your own network of capable female architects.  They will serve you well when you start your own firm.  Please ensure that you don’t let female sympathy get the best of you when you are hiring!  (Women who want to use your firm as a virtual office to run their homes or a front to sell human hair, shoes and body magic from their under their desk need not apply!).  Agreed?!

4. Be Flexible: If you take my advice to branch out on your own don’t forget you’d still be working in a male dominated industry so I would really like you find a way to separate ‘the lady at home’ and the ‘boss at work’ in a way that will favour your business.  There may be times you would have to accommodate late night meetings at hotel bars and smile at ‘crude’ male jokes just to close the deal.  You are going to have to learn how to ‘do what needs to get done’ and stop ‘waiting patiently and hoping’ for your next level.

5. Feminine Persuasion: Unfortunately most females have forgotten that our ‘softer’ side is a key tool to be used in  business – its disarming. Remember to always act like a lady (stay graceful) but think like a man (be strategic) to give you the edge when you work with men.  Most women lose the battle here by being aggressive and brash – it never works. Your best bet is to stay true to yourself and let your feminine persuasion work for you.

Titi, I really hope you find the strength to stand up for yourself because you deserve a seat in the boardroom – even if you have to build your own chair!

Make it happen!, Ego Pepper Top of Form

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