Yesterday I attended the monthly Goering Center Executive Luncheon to support my mother who was on the panel. The topic up for discussion was “Women Leaders in the Family Business”. The panel included my mother, Mackey McNeill, Robin Sheakley of Sibcy Cline, and Mary Miller, the CEO of Jancoa Janitorial Services. The luncheon was a truly inspiring event. It was a treat to listen to the lessons learned, the odds beaten, and the sheer determination that these women have.
My mother told one story in particular that received a few gasps and quiet “wows”. She told the story of landing an interview with one of the then “Big 6” accounting firms. She took the day off work, traveled to Atlanta from Athens, and wound up on the 34th floor of the Peachtree building hoping for the opportunity of a lifetime. “I didn’t even have time to warm the leather sofa before one of the partners came out to greet me”, Mackey said. He extended his arm for a handshake, but it might as well have been a knock out punch. This partner told Mackey that the firm was under the impression she was a man, and they had instituted a policy of no longer hiring women. He apologized for the inconvenience and sent Mackey on her way.
Now I have heard this story before. It was a recurring theme in my mother’s young career, but it seemed that it hit this lunch time crowd hard. I realized something yesterday. I realized that my sense of reality when it comes to women in the workplace is exceptionally skewed.
While growing up in the 80’s most young girls who aspired to be true leaders looked up to their fathers or other male role models, not me. The world I lived in was chock full of women leaders. I had a rare and invaluable view of the world and after listening to my mother’s stories yesterday I appreciate it so much more.
Who runs the world? Well at least in my world it is women.