I recently had the opportunity to work with an all-women business team in the financial services industry. One of the members of team asked me: “Do you think all-women teams can be successful in business?” So I did what all good little consultants do – I scoured the internet for stories of all-women business teams that rock so that I could inspire this group of women to follow their lead!
It’s a great one. But still…
Well, anyway, let’s give some big props to Ford’s “Green Team”.
In an industry dominated by men, Ford’s all-women renewable materials research team is a rarity. The group of six innovate new ways to revolutionize the production of Ford vehicles. In less than a decade they’ve had big breakthroughs. And as a female-only group, they’ve managed to juggle schedules, children and even laboratory mishaps like only women can. Collaboration and communication within the group are key elements to its success. They often work on projects in pairs to offer each other support and a sounding board. “The biggest drawback to an all-woman team can be that they verbalize a whole lot – that can be the biggest advantage too.” While Ford’s all-women team has high-reaching goals and smart solutions, they say at heart they’re really like a family.
The image of the Ford Green Team working together was great. I started to look for more images of women working together in a professional environment – something positive and encouraging that I could show the group – but I had little hope.
This is because about five years ago I was asked to create a presentation for women professionals on the topic of “Being An Ally For Women at Work” and I had searched for positive images of women working together. I found my task was not easy. In fact, at first I could find nothing. Sure, I found women having cocktails after work (think Sex and the City), women at baby showers, women representing multiple generations – grandma, mom, and daughter, and women cooking meals together. All socially acceptable images. Finally, after three hours of trolling the world wide web, I found two images of women together in a work environment:
As you can see, it was not what I hoped for. In the first image the women are positioned as competitors, one in the light, one in shadow, one in the front, one left behind, one in focus, the other a blur. In the second we see the typical stereotype of women in the office depicted – gossiping. Cause that’s women for ya.
I started to think that if in three hours of looking all I could find were these two terrible images, it might just be true that we don’t think positive and productive women teams exist in business culture.
Back to my recent team meeting – so, you can imagine that when I only found the Ford Green Team story last month, I predicted that yet again I would have trouble finding any images to use. But, this time, I was pleasantly surprised. I searched for “women working together” and immediately several great images popped up. Here are just a few:
So, we are making progress. And that’s certainly encouraging.
What do you think? Are women teams able to be successful in business environments? Have you been on a team like this? What was your experience? What more can we do to build positive images of women teams in American companies today?
We want to hear from you!