The Business Doctor

'eradicating the Mad Management Virus'

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


I’m writing this in the café of the Centre of Creative Leadership in Brussels so forgive the leaps. The tea is great and all the varying languages going on around me, it feels a little like the UN, it's so entertaining. As an aside, it is interesting that how, when you don’t recognise the words (my French is weak, okay pretty appalling if honest), you try to guess the conversation by body language and gestures of the actors. I’m sure this does not work however, otherwise when you are listening to native Chinese talk, you would assume a domestic fight has broken out, and whilst the Chinese are not unlike the West in marital disputes, not all of the time I’m sure.

Let's get to the point of my rant. I have been amused this and last week at the Sky and Sports commentators’ scandal and it amazes me that people are so shocked, well shocked for the wrong reasons. I’m also strangely disappointed as pro-feminist, that most people still don’t get it. Sport was ‘created’ to enhance masculine values. Values, which I won't go into in this post, that promote masculinity per se, but mirror the values in most organisations that are also created out of these masculine roles. Organisations are built by men, for men, for men to play their games in, is one quote from Rosebeth Moss-Kanter work in the 90's switch sticks out even into days, liberal, equality bound, ethical structures and policy.

Forming a 'lobby group' as one 'expert' suggested, to change the male attitude is extremely difficult given that their whole life has been about creating an image based on not being the ‘other’ i.e. feminine. There is no grey area to most men. Its masculine or the other. Most men fear the notion that they can be fluid in terms of masculinity and femininity, and not based in any fixed category.

This for me is the rub. If feminist’s, or for that matter people want to change society then focussing efforts on to sport is only a tiny part of that change and some would say a waste of effort if it fails to grasp the core root of the values of sport itself. What I mean here is we spend a fortune trying to treat the symptoms of something rather than it's multifaceted cause. It somewhat like a company providing private healthcare to employees who go absent sick, to reduce the sickness figures, rather than attempting to find out why they are on the sick in the first place and removing the cause! What I mean specifically is with all this sport, is that I spent one hour on a running machine yesterday in a gym, which is a feat in itself as running indoors is so boring. Nevertheless the whole hour was spent looking at the music channel on TV, and what can only be described by my generation as ‘soft-porn’ music videos, which depicted women as purely sexual objects, even when the artist was female. These sort of images portray women as sex objects, to be used and stared at AND if you ask any teenager its "cool"!

My point? Things are always a lot more complex than sacking two football pundits and hoping this will change the sexism in sport. Most simplistic ideas are counter-intuitive and fail really to achieve the answer, without causing other problems, hidden away in the system. Just think ASBO, and the now badge of honour having one is, to the disruptive youth. If we are really to achieve diversity, respect and equality (in the true sense) then we need to look deeper, and explore human solutions to human causes. 

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