In this episode, I talked to Bernadette McClelland, CEO of 3 Red Folders about Debunking the Boys Club, which was an interesting and lively conversation. It was not a discussion about bashing the men!
Like me, Bernadette has an interest in supporting and helping women in sales. We start the conversation by talking about why that is important to her. We also talked about the why for the topic of our discussion. Debunking the boys club, Bernadette told me is a provocative topic, a question that needs to be explored if we want to help women get into a career in sales in an easier more effective way and work their way up the ladder in their career in easier ways.
Bernadette was strong in her belief that we know boy’s clubs exist, which we work around but it is important to stay focused on the positive and not stand up on soap boxes bashing the guys. She feels that to do so not only devalues us but moves us backward from our goals.
What was your journey in the B2B world?
Bernadette worked for Xerox for 20 years starting in a sales admin position and worked her way up into a sales position. In sharing her story, Bernadette told me that in applying for a sales trainee role, she was turned down three times for the position. The reason? She was too nice. She did get the job, however, she stayed true to her nice self. But being the only woman in that sales environment, Bernadette found that it was very much an alpha male, boys club. She found herself having to make tough decisions about how to fit in because there certainly was no support for a woman in sales at that time.
What is the boys club?
Interesting that the definition, which evidently dates to old English colleges is an informal system by which money and power are retained by wealthy white men through incestuous business relationships.
Does the boys club really exist?
Yes. They do exist. And, it is important to note that many times men don’t even know that they are excluding women. As Bernadette said, that then leads men to not even know that there is a problem. In other words, the exclusion isn’t necessarily intentional.
Are there different types of boy’s clubs?
There are four types of boy’s clubs that Bernadette says that she has come across.
Hobby Club – this is where the guys hang together and participate in shared interests. For example, golf.
A-Team Club – this is certainly the club that both Bernadette and I experienced when working in corporate. This club is focused on results. They use short-cut language understood by club members. High achievers who are very inclusive of themselves. Being part of this club feels exclusive to those that are in it.
Locker Room Club – this doesn’t need much explanation, and though this club is disappearing slowly. Perhaps not slowly enough though.
Clone Club – this type is when the leader wants people to come up through the ranks just like he did. This tends to exclude others, including women who aren’t clones. People who don’t look or act the same as everyone else in the group.
What are three things women must do to neutralize the effect?
Speaking up, calling attention to the issue of unintentional exclusion is an important part of resolving the problem. Step up and do so with courage. Ask questions. But make decisions about when you feel it is important to step up.
Show up. How are you showing up as a professional woman in sales?
Have the clarity to articulate your message and do it with conviction.
As with all interviews, there is a lot of insight and goodness here. Listen and enjoy!
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Bernadette McClelland is CEO of 3 Red Folders, a boutique sales performance and sales leadership practice headquartered in Melbourne Australia. She is also the founder of The Hive – a platform for trailblazing women who want to do B2B sales differently. Having held senior business development roles in Corporate Australia, owned a 7-figure family business, been the APAC business coach for Anthony Robbins, authored five books on selling and personal leadership, has clients across 14 countries and 4 continents, she is clearly a respected industry resource who loves to make a difference in the business world.
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