• Susanne Birgersdotter

I think it would be safe to say that we all have experienced some sort of female bullying. We can be the target of the bullying, the bully, a friend of the bully, or a friend of the bullied. I first experienced bullying during my grade school days. I’ve been picked on because I was different – I dress differently, act differently, and doesn’t really like conforming to the norms.

This is one of the marked differences between men and women in business. Men will form brotherhoods, clubs, and organizations. Any fighting, bickering, and attacks between businessmen are purely business in nature. It is considered ungentlemanly to attack a business fellow personally. Men fight within the business environs, while their wives and kids are close friends.

Not so much when it comes to women in business.

Cattiness, pettiness, and viciousness are thinly veiled over with cold smiles, well-phrased innuendoes, two-faced dealings, and back-stabbing. Women will strive to put up a pretense of camaraderie, of genuine friendship, and of heartfelt concern among each other. Looking at pictures in business events or corporate offices, you’ll think of great friendships, happy interactions, and steady relationships.

But if you look closer, you’ll notice the quick smirk, the side-eyes, and the whispered attacks. The tone is most palpable in the women’s restrooms. Away from the observing eyes of the opposite gender, women will drop down almost all pretenses. Jibes about your looks, insults on your dress, and hurtful jokes about your makeup are all so common.

I had my share of adult bullying in the business, from almost everybody. From men, from people in higher positions, from business competitors, from colleagues and from associates. But, of all the put-downs I get, nothing compares to those coming from a woman.

While women in business will shy away from the ‘unladylike’ conduct of shouting, cursing, and physical attacks, they find a more cruel and destructive way of demeaning other women. As long as it is under the pretense of friendship and kindness, bullying is fine.

Psychology says that women tend to fight with others as they tend to compare themselves with the presumed enemy. If two women are vying for a position, each of them will try to demean or demote the other so as to uplift herself. This is where I’m not understanding any this.

I’m competitive, but I usually compete with myself. I strive to better myself every day and in every way I can. If I think myself lacking, then I work on filling up the missing parts. I follow my own pace, and not compare how I fare with others’ progress.

I would rather help a colleague up than put them down. This is the main reason why I started the World Women Network. I want women entrepreneurs to start uniting and stop fighting with each other. My goal is to create a community of women entrepreneurs, where sharing, inspiring, and supporting each other are the rules of engagement. No back-fighting, no malicious intent, no bullying. I want to form a sisterhood where we can benefit from each other’s connection through sharing insights, motivation, and support. Where achievements are shared and celebrated, and challenges consulted and resolved.

It will be my utmost happiness to see my sisters achieve their goals, realized their dreams, and find success. For me, that will be my dream, my accomplishment.