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Should a Female Director“Tone It Down”?



Should a Female Director“Tone It Down”?

Question 1

Most of the issues that Sarah has encountered while working as a board member can be attributed to gender bias. Although she lacks any male peers with the same views and opinion as hers that could help determine the extent of criticism they would be subjected to, it is evident that Sarah is doing her very best in a polite way and does not hesitate to point out what needs to be done. However, her male colleagues have created an extremely sexist atmosphere. The CFO had ignored her requests to provide full financial statements and instead continued to present a short analysis that is not sufficient to allow the directors to do their work of providing oversight. Her colleagues, especially the CEO, perceived that she was a smart and perceptive woman. However, it was possibly easier for them to ignore her views than ask the CFO to provide the required information in detail because of gender bias. Sarah was the only female board member and the failure of other board members to support her reasonable views could have been influenced by gender bias. The organization, therefore, seems to hold her to a different set of behavior standards because she is a woman. The root cause of the tension during board meetings is possibly gender bias, either conscious or unconscious, given that she has the ability to play her leadership and management role. Although she only asked Sid Yerby, the CFO to provide detailed financial reports, he responded in a manner that indicated she was naughty and misbehaving, and that there was a need to reprimand her to make his work easier.

Question 2-Should a Female Director“Tone It Down”?

Sarah has limited options for being effective, given the presence of possible gender bias.

To be effective, she should speak her mind. Although this is likely to raise the present level of conflict, going pass the conflict phase will important to her since it will pave the way for a solution. Moreover, she could also discuss with each member the reasons they disagree with her views. This step would help them to uncover and understand any unconscious gender bias they could be harboring against her. More importantly, she should understand that negative backlash will never lack whenever a woman behaves assertively. Changing her behavior will render her ineffective. Therefore, she should not stop speaking up as long as she is sure of what she is advocating for.

Question 3

Yes, I think Sarah’s personal style has a role in creating the situation that she now faces. She is pushy and assertive, and her behavior can be considered forceful and assertive. Some of her male colleagues may be uncomfortable with her style of communication. It is evident that the embattled board member is pushing the CFO to furnish the board with certain details. Unfortunately, this conduct has made the rest of the board members, who are all males, to judge her negatively.

Question 4-Should a Female Director“Tone It Down”?

It is evident that Sarah needs to have a working relationship with both the board and the management team. Toning it down would not be the best option given that this would make her ineffective. Since the CFO has the support of the board, he will continue to resist calls for change made by Sarah. Moreover, she does not have the authority to manage Sid Yerby. The best option would, therefore, be to approach the chair and ask him to call for a non-executive meeting in which the conflict between her and the CFO will be discussed and addressed. Dysfunctional boards have been the main cause of failures in many companies. Sticking to her guns will create more confrontations. Therefore, another good option would be for her to quit her position to avoid any future confrontations.Should a Female Director“Tone It Down”?