Archive for the ‘Things I don’t like’ Category

  • Rereading a post I wrote in 2011 and finding a major typo/predictive text mistake – “the life I leave” instead of “the life I lead.” And knowing that there are almost certainly dozens more typos in my already published posts. Argh!
  • Knowing that the above is probably an understatement.
  • I have a sore arm. I don’t know why. It might be the result of too much knitting. Or using an exercise band in a home workout the other day (though the other arm isn’t sore, which puzzles me). Or some mysterious malady.
  • So I’m refraining from knitting for a few days to see if the arm improves.
  • Then I wonder if it is just age?
  • Did I mention it is my right arm? I am soooo right-handed, sigh.
  • Spring. Spring on a nice day is fabulous. The tulips at the botanical gardens are probably all in bloom. Or did I miss them? The kowhai trees are also all out at the moment. The bright yellow bursts of colour are joyful. But it has been raining (good when there’s been drought in many places) a lot. And it has been very windy, which is also a feature of spring here in Wellington. So I haven’t been able to get out with my camera, or even my phone camera, to share them with you.
  • Shifting the kilo or so I put on during our indulgent road-trip in May has not been so easy.
  • People who make declarations and post articles without a) reading the articles, b) applying logic to the situation, c) don’t see that they are doing exactly what they claim the “sheep” are doing, and d) lose all sense of perspective in their arguments, because they are so determined to stick to them, and have so much invested in their point of view that they’ll never be able to back down.
  • Ranting. Sometimes I feel better after a rant. But today, I just feel more annoyed! Maybe I need to read the point above again. Lol
  • Lacking inspiration for a blog post, and having to resort to a list like this. Apologies!

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I was at a funeral recently, and met an old schoolmate who had once helped another boy sexually attack me when I was about 14 or 15, though had not laid a hand on me himself. (I was able to get away at the time, simply by fighting off the second boy.) In recent years I’ve thought about the incident quite a lot, but have only seen him once or twice since the event. I was chatting to his mother at the funeral when he came up, and so had no choice but to talk to him. But I had decided that the funeral of my uncle was not the place to tell him what I thought of him. So I didn’t. I wonder if I ever will? (I may never see him again, anyway.) I’ve recovered. He’s had a much tougher life, and has been, I understand, fragile mentally. But I wonder too if he ever thinks about that day?

I was reminded of this incident this morning by a school survey finding that more than half of their students had suffered from sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape. It was a girls’ school, so I applaud the school for commissioning the survey, and the support they are providing for their students. Though I admit that I scoffed when I heard the School Principal say she was “shocked.” Shocked? Really?

It is just further evidence that not much has changed since the 1970s, when the incident I refer to took place, or the 1940s, when my mother-in-law had some close escapes. It’s further evidence that boys (and men) aren’t getting the message that girls (or women) are not there for the sexual amusement, or bullying, or to take when they want. It’s evidence that too many parents of boys, and boys’ schools, society’s leaders, and just society in general still these assaults against women as forgiveable transgressions that can be explained away. We have heard too many times the “boys will be boys” explanation for criminal behaviour. It wasn’t acceptable in the 1940s, or 1970s, and it is not acceptable now. And 40 years later, I’m still angry.

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#17 of Blogging with Friends: Something about a job you have done that other people don’t (or didn’t) understand

For about 11 years, I was on the Board of Directors of a government-owned subsidiary company. For much of that time, I was Chair of the Board. (I didn’t like Chairman or Chairperson, and I thought Chairwoman sounded awkward, so I became the Chair!) Our shareholders were government entities, and a number of their CEOs sat on the Board. Needless perhaps to say, I was the only woman on the Board, although we had women in the senior management group, and I was one of only two company directors who had direct experience working in the same field and with some of the same clients as the company.

It was a small company, with great growth potential – and in fact, great growth during my time in the position. That meant that I worked very closely in supporting the company’s CEO and senior management, at a level of detail that would not have been possible in a much larger company. I had already done the same work as many of the staff members and contractors, had managed client relationships, and reported on risk and business development and growth. I was now on the other side of that, in a governance role, checking on financial and other risks, and was the employer of the CEO. I learned a huge amount about the differences between management and governance, about when it was appropriate to step in, and when I needed to step back and not interfere. It was an interesting and rewarding role, especially seeing my inputs bear fruit.

Friends saw me working on the board a few days a week, and thought it was an ideal, post-full-time-career role. I think they thought it was well paid. It was not well paid at all! But that’s not the topic of this post. What they didn’t think about was that, in New Zealand (as I am sure many other countries), company directors have legal responsibilities under the Companies Act. We were/are required to act honestly, in the best interests of their company, and with reasonable care at all times. If we ignored these duties, didn’t ask the right questions, or behaved recklessly, we could be personally liable and face prosecution. Therein lies the aspect of this job that my friends and family, and many other people, don’t think about. Fear.

Even when I knew we were dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, that we were financially rigorous about risk, and that we were taking every possible care for our staff and contractors’ health and safety (we were sending people to work in Asia during the first SARs and swine flu outbreaks), I occasionally (perhaps more often than occasionally) felt fear. It didn’t help that, unlike some high profile prosecutions around the time I was chairing the board, our company did not take or use the public’s money (unlike, for example, financial institutions), and – unusually for many businesses – we were not even in debt. So the prosecutions of directors that were in the news could not even have applied to us. Still, that fear was always there. Maybe it was a result of a lack of confidence, or a form of fraud syndrome? Maybe it was simply my level of diligence in the role? I don’t know. But I felt it regularly.

When I stepped down as Chair after six years, I felt some relief, though legally I was still just as responsible for my actions and decisions and, perhaps most importantly, my questions as I had been when I was chairing the board. A year or so later I resigned from the company to go overseas, and the relief was palpable. And not because I no longer had to deal with egotistical men who liked the sound of their own voices and had been promoted beyond their capabilities! Finally, that fear that came from such a level of responsibility was lifted. Even if the directorships boys’ clubs shutting me out of future roles were not still in operation, I admit that I would not be in a rush to invite that fear back into my life.

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