I’m sure you know about Mean Girls - and I’m not just talking about the movie. I’m talking about the dog-eat-dog, no holds barred, pseudo-aggressive mean girl culture where it’s every girl for herself and only one can be the Queen Bee.
That kind of culture is everywhere. In every school, every country, every workplace I’ve ever been in. The problem is...It drags down productivity and workplace happiness. In tech - where only 30% of employees are women, it’s can drag down entire teams and projects.
We definitely don’t want our work or happiness to suffer, so we turned Mean Girl culture on it’s head. Instead of ganging up against each other, we took to intentional bonding. Here’s what we did:
Girls Only, Girls’ Nights.
(As the all-knowing Fergie says “A little party never killed nobody”)
Not just an excuse to party - these girls nights set us up to bond over common ground. We started with an emotional chick-flick - “Me Before You” - a movie that explores whether a quadriplegic has the right to die and whether he should, knowing he’ll leave his girlfriend behind. Not a light topic, by any means. But wow, did it ever solidify us as a group. You know what they say - “girls that cry together, get by together”. (No one actually says that...but maybe they should.) That evening created a true atmosphere of togetherness.
We continue to have regular evenings together. Theatre, meals, deep conversation. The difference has been like night and day. Instead of seeing other women in the company as competitors, we now see them as confidents.
On the surface it has nothing to do with IT projects. But underneath the surface it’s creating a whole new subculture in the company. The office vibe has changed. The office drama - nipped in the bud. Gossip? What gossip? The ladies are relating to each other on a new professional level and we notice a stark improvement.
The men in the office? They weren’t invited to the girl’s night, but that doesn’t mean they don’t benefit. The change was subtle. There was no big ‘ah ha’ moment.
But the fact is - every single project - and the company as a whole, is running a little better thanks to the newfound camaraderie between the girls.