Review: The Naked Truth: A Working Woman’s Manifesto on Business

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Title: The Naked Truth: A Working woman’s Manifesto on Business and What Really Matters
Author: Margaret Heffernan
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
ISBN: 0-7879-7143-X
Price: £16.99
Reviewer: Jo Lamb-White

The book, written by a successful business woman, maintains its objective is to share and face some of the truths (mostly unpleasant) about executive life for women within corporations in the UK and US and to describe how women could if allowed, contribute to a more pleasant outlook. It is based on a number of interviews and quotes from a number of female ‘executives’.

The Naked Truth talks about choice and standing up for your values and not sacrificing the qualities which determine our women hood. Indeed, women have put their careers on the line to contribute to the contents. On the participants’ page, it states that some names have been changed to ‘protect their careers’. Good start then - to facing up to some of these ‘truths’ and standing up for our values.

The Naked Truth is aimed a career women, those in business who as the media would describe as ‘wanting it all’ These women have other lives outside of work, are sometimes mothers and are often motivated by a competitive, financially rewarding life.

The Naked Truth is also aimed at men, those who have the ‘power’ and determine whether female equivalents will pass or fail. It is a warning that if men do not sit up and really, really listen that there will be a revolt. We women will not tolerate this sitting down.

So the big question is ‘are men and women equal?’ Well, this depends upon what you are measuring them against. Is it physical strength? Sales figures? Emotional Intelligence? The ability to do more than one task at a time? The trouble is the measurement is very rarely defined or if it is, it’s financial.

If we continue to compare our success by the size of our pay check I fear we lose the plot, never mind the qualities which make women different. All of the chapters provide evidence of how misogynistic our large corporations still are, after all this time. All of them?

However, it was the last chapter which is its saving grace. The one that confirms all is not lost. Jason, one of the small number of men interviewed for this publication, wrote in an email to the author; ‘I have had allies (i.e. women) around me all this time, and just never realised it.’ Well there you go then, sorted.

The Naked Truth is about choice. There are many organisations who do value the contribution of their employees. Those that value expertise whether or not you need maternity leave or don’t like playing golf. You (who ever you may be) have a choice to work within organisations which represent and allow you to exercise and live your complementary values. Organisational cultures can be horrid and take years to change even with the most committed and visionary leaders, and what ever the issues are not pleasant places to work. Choice is about taking risks and assessing whether you want that choice enough.

Then you may be recognised, successful, fulfilled and happy with your lot. Sounds a bit like Nirvana but if you don’t aim high...

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