It is an open secret in business that most of the major deals happen in “the club”. Every major business has its own club – a society, an organization, or a fraternity of the top echelon. Trying to get into the revered club is like trying to be a member of the royal family. You’ll either need a ton of luck or a ton of money or both. You can get nominated by a very influential member or buy yourself a very expensive membership.
And yes, most of the business clubs I’ve known are exclusive to men.
I’ve always wanted to join the clubs I’ve encountered. Mainly because of the business activities that happen inside the club. I want to be in the action too. And because of the relationship of the club members. I want to be their friend too. I want to foster personal and friendly relationships with the people I only know professionally or within the business milieu. And I would love to enjoy the premium services and amenities clubs afford its members.
I wasn’t able to get into even one of the clubs. And the only reason I surmise is my gender. I was rejected because I’m a woman. Never mind that I’m the CEO of my company. Never mind that I have the connections. Never mind that I’m a significant contributor to the industry. Never mind that I’m on my nth company. All of that doesn’t matter. Nothing will get me across that door, because I’m a woman. They do not openly state their gender exclusivity; some even give the impression that they welcome everyone who wishes to join. They just won’t accept you.
These clubs are often tagged as “business clubs”. They are technically open to women. However, the women who are able to get in are either the wife or a daughter of the member. A woman cannot get in in her own capacity.
In this supposed age of equality and acceptance, can the Boys’ Club change and keep up with the times? Can we now get rid of the patriarchal boys’ club and enforce a real business club? Or should we, women in business, push for our own women’s club?
I prefer the more inclusive open-for-all business clubs. They already have a system that works, established processes everyone could adopt, and built infrastructures for its business needs. They only need to tweak one thing, let deserving women in.
We don’t aim to dominate the clubs or steal it from the men. We just want to co-exist. To have the same privileges as they enjoy, to have the opportunity to develop relationships with the people in the industry, to have access to the same business information that can only come from inside the clubs.
Creating our own clubs will help boost the competitive edge of women in business. There is strength in numbers, and the more united we are, the stronger we get. We can rule from our own side of town. This is the easier option. Women have proven and again that they can rise to any challenge and defeat any perceived enemy. However, it could also send a divisive signal to the industry.
But despite the waves of changes including gender equality and women empowerment, clubs are not yielding to the most sensible thing to do. Let the women in. I guess we will have to create our own sisterhood.