Last week I read a statement that I actually laughed out loud about. The Orange Story reported that Ann Francke, head of the Chartered Management Institute, said “discussing activities such as football or cricket in the office could also lead to ‘laddish behaviour’ or harmful banter between colleagues.”
I am not even sure where to begin on Ms. Francke’s comments. Her argument, I think, is that talking about sports excludes women from the conversation or forces women to engage in sports talk when they don’t want to. Sports talk also leads to conversation about weekend conquests. I wonder what Ms. Francke feels are appropriate workplace conversations. I’m guessing about forms, appointments, lunch breaks, taxes, opera or musicals. Ug!
Does this woman have a clue about allowing people to connect with each other? Many times it is the love or dislike of a team or sport that brings people together. Does she even know how vast athletics are around the world? One event every four years actually brings countries together through sports – a little thing called the Olympics!!! Does she know that just because she may not like sports talk doesn’t mean that all women dislike sports talk? I find myself mostly talking about sports lately. I am a coach, my husband enjoys golf and baseball, and my son plays sports. If this woman had her way, I wouldn’t be able to express pride in the kids I coach or my son’s athletic accomplishments!
I am appalled at the idea that this woman manages a company and wants to limit conversation of her employees. There is the freedom of speech, even in Britain, and censuring what is talked about violates that freedom. I understand that not everyone likes to listen to sports talk, and that’s perfectly acceptable. People should be considerate of those around them and not create uncomfortable work environments. They should also not let sports interfere with their job, or the job of their coworkers. I wonder, is she also going to limit conversation on ballet or musical events? I don’t enjoy either of them and I cannot contribute toward a conversation about ballet or musicals. How about talking about cars or motorcycles? Again, I know nothing about either and could not contribute to an in depth conversation on cars or bikes. According to Francke’s ridiculous theory, talking about these things at work would alienate me and should be limited as well. I suppose she is a fan of quiet time and productivity at work.
Another claim Ann Francke has is that talking about sports at work is sexist. That it leads to “laddish behavior” and talking about “conquests” over the weekend. Did she just call women “conquests”? It sounds more likely that Francke doesn’t like the conversation about weekend behavior more than the actual sports talk. It also sounds like she wants to lump all women together into this argument. I think that Ann Francke is not stopping sexist behavior; she is creating sexist behavior. She is dividing a workplace and infringing on rights due to gender. That seems sexist to me. Why isn’t she applauding the females in the athletic field who are exemplary and role models to youngsters, like Serena Williams, Danica Patrick, Steffi Graf, Lindsey Vonn, Gabby Douglas, Florence Griffith Joyner, and Marion Jones, to name just a few. How about coaches Pat Summit, Emily Schromm, Lyzabeth Lopez, Jen Welter, and Katie Sowers? They have all blazed a trail and raised the standard for future female coaches and athletes. Could you imagine where they would be if or how male dominated athletics would be if we couldn’t talk about sports?
I leave it at that. What do you think?