Sometimes the best of intentions to treat male and female executives (or senators) exactly the same can cause memorable incidents. A story from today’s New York Times described Representative Kevin McCarthy’s gift of a too large windbreaker with the words “Chairman’s Table” written on the back to Senator Lisa Murkowski. The windbreaker was for a man and far too big for Murkowski–McCarthy’s aides apologized and said they simply ran out of women’s sized jackets. Murkowski said she gave the windbreaker to her husband and said she took no offense. She added, “But I did think that was something telling. We are not thinking about the women.”
This reminded me of the gifts given at a corporate meeting I attended back in the mid-90s. When I arrived in my hotel room, there was a too large golf shirt waiting for me as my welcome gift. Very few women were attending the meeting and all attendees were given the same gift.
What made for the memory was a call from my husband the next morning telling me that it must be a very successful meeting as I had just received flowers from corporate. The flowers were actually sent to all spouses just as the large golf shirts were given to all attendees. I’m sure much consideration was given as to what gifts to give to attendees and spouses–particularly, equal treatment for all.
Today’s article reminded me that though much has changed over the past 20 years, there is still room for more change. Women are different. Remember, one size doesn’t fit all.