City gave employees training … on how to deal with women

Sebastiaan ter Burg (CC BY 2.0)

The city of Austin, Texas, achieved a majority-female council for the first time ever (seven women and four men including the mayor) — a feat so historic and unique that the city manager believed it required special training for his city employees … on how to talk business with women. The two-hour training took place in March, but the Austin-American Statesman broke the story when a video surfaced of the event last week. During the training, Jonathan K Allen, once city manager in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, had an all-female commission, advised that “women ask a lot of questions, so patience is paramount.” Another helpful tip: avoid using too many numbers! Presenting his argument in financial terms didn’t always fly with female commissioners, he explained. “Mr. Manager, I don’t want to hear about the financial argument,” he recalled them saying. “I want to hear about how this impacts the whole community.” Luckily, they also invited an actual woman to share her thoughts on the subject. Dr. Miya Burt-Stewart, who owns a business development and marketing firm, the Statesman noted, gave advice that drew partly from the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, and emphasized that men act on facts, while women act on emotion, and that “Men have egos, women have wish lists.” The Austin City Council held a press conference to address the training and said that members were unaware of it when it happened in March, but were appalled by the news.  “I have to question a culture that allowed such a training to occur. Women have served in leadership positions for years, this is not our first trip to the rodeo. We don’t read agenda information? We don’t want to deal with numbers? Come on, folks, this is 2015,” said councilor Leslie Pool.

Read the full story at Fast Company.

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