Career sabotage: Stop serving tea at the office.
The world was not created to elevate women. This is old news. Sometimes, however, things fail because women get in their own way. Let me explain.
It’s a clear and sunny Monday morning. Other colleagues are flocking to the office charged for another week. You arrive late carrying a large bag full of cookies from your weekend baking session. You know how much your colleagues love your cooking, you had to bring it with you.
Or it’s Thursday afternoon, and the team is trying to reconnect after a busy start to the week. Once everyone is settled, you jump to your feet and start serving juice and cookies from the corner table. You are a caregiver and you like to put people at ease. Your friends love you for it and you like to see yourself as a real woman.
If this is you, you need to stop. First of all, let me say that there is nothing wrong with a woman who likes to cook, clean and make others feel good. Home economics, when brought into the workplace, however, becomes problematic in many ways.
First, in a country where women still earn significantly less than men for the same job, being the breadwinner is a perfect example of gender inequality. Serving tea or washing dishes for a few weeks and it becomes an expectation. It becomes something more that you have to do in addition to your normal workload and for the benefit of your work.
On the face of it, serving tea is no big deal and you’re just trying to be nice and get things done, but you’re unknowingly reinforcing negative stereotypes against women. They will be happy to try your new recipe, but what you may not see beyond the smile is the fact that you are being judged.
For a working woman, there is no time to rest. At a time when women are still fighting for equal opportunities to work outside the home, domesticity is the image we are trying to combat. When you start feeding people in the office, you are doing your job wrong. It distracts from what you are – a professional and an executive.
If you are the one who always picks up after them, your colleagues will definitely appreciate you. Don’t confuse being loved with success or respect. You may be the woman everyone likes to see on Monday morning, but your name won’t be the first thing on your boss’s mind when he’s looking to give him a new project. Let the people make themselves tea and clean themselves. Use your time at the office to do things that will help your job, such as taking on more opportunities and negotiating a better salary.
Feed your womanhood, clean, cook and host as many tea parties as you like, but leave those instincts at the door on Monday morning.