Everyone Assumes I Own My Girlfriend’s Businesses
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You guessed it, it’s because I’m a dude.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family.
Both of my parents have always owned their own businesses since I was born, so I never knew anything else. I saw my dad go to work each day, and my mom work at home producing her goods which she would bring me and my little brother to go deliver.
This helped to mold my view of entrepreneurship as an equal opportunity choice in life. Man, woman, whatever. You could own a business and carve your own path.
Growing up in this atmosphere shaped my stance on egalitarianism. We are all equal with an equal amount of opportunity and potential to succeed.
Of course, both statistics and real life experience tell us that the scales are, in reality, tipped in the favor of men.
Particularly straight white men, but let’s just keep it simple for now.
My girlfriend is in the process of opening her second business, which is located right next to the first. They are large locations and require a decent staff and much attention (attention, as any business does).
She’d opened the first business before we met but I have been more hands on with the second. I help with tasks and management oversight when I am able.
As the location gets closer to opening, there have been some people in and out of the building. Vendors, maintenance people, others to help make sure things go smoothly on day one.
I’ve noticed an interesting pattern with all of these people that really shouldn’t surprise me:
They all automatically assume I’m the owner.
An HVAC guy recently came in to look at an air conditioning issue. He spoke directly to me the entire time while she was standing right next to me.
The same has happened with others who just think that since I’m the guy, I must be the head honcho.
She’s the one who pays over $15,000 per month in rent alone.
She’s the one who’s been raising two kids this entire time.
She’s the one who does the staffing, and scheduling, and managing, and deciding.
She’s the one who designs the space and funds the projects and holds it all together.
She’s the one who not only survived a pandemic with enormous expenses, but somehow managed to expand during it as well.
She’s not really bothered by it when this happens. In fact, she accepts it. “They’ll take you more seriously when you walk in there.”
Perhaps it’s because she’s a 31 year old mother of two and people don’t assume that she has the time or energy to be the one who has built such an empire.
But, she’s the one who has.
Our society has come a long way in terms of how we view and treat women in the workplace, but to think our work is done would be a disservice to all of those who need to work twice as hard to achieve the same level of respect.
I believe credit should be given where it’s due so I always make sure it’s known who runs the show, and I’m always raving about her accomplishments to others. Partially I think it’s in my subconscious to fight against the stigmas that we have tacitly accepted as a culture.
I don’t think there is malice in the intentions of those who automatically assume I am the owner, I just think it’s a product of the norms we have accepted and never stopped to question.
Why am I making this assumption?
Neither life nor business should be a competition between men and women. I believe we all win when we recognize that our strengths are compatible and we can work well together as a team — but challenges arise when men do not take the time to reflect and ask if they really truly see a woman as an equal member of the team.
Until we make room at the table for people of all races and religions and genders and sexual orientations, we will forever be missing out on valuable insight that comes from someone who sees the world through a different lens than us.
They can solve different problems, suggest different angles, provide different perspectives.
But if we automatically assume that they can, cannot, will, or will not do something simply because of what we see visually, we deprive ourselves of the full vision of a person or a situation.
Solving this problem is difficult, but it is not complicated.
All we must really do accept that the world does not hold roles or positions for us based on how we were born. At least, it shouldn’t.
When we begin to reverse and reject this way of thinking, we start to level the playing field and seek expertise and knowledge from a wider variety of sources we may not have considered previously.
This is how we elevate society. We empower all of those who have exemplary skills to use them towards a greater good.
We support them, challenge them, admire them, and respect them.
We do not move society forward as a whole by only utilizing a select few members of it.
When we understand that greatness can appear in any size or shape: That’s when we can consider ourselves civilized.
Until then, I’ll be making sure the proper people get the credit for their accomplishments.
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