Penny Hunt's blog coffee conversationsIn Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ (1954) the summer heat is a crucial cast member. Without it the action just couldn’t unfold in the same way. The windows are opened, sound carries easily – and crazy thoughts incubate and grow.  Crazy thoughts. Immobility. They’re both here, too in this strange summer London quiet. Without James Stewart’s fictional Manhattan apartment, or those rather fine binoculars, the heat here in the café is provoking some crazy thoughts in another direction. It’s not the neighbours I’m curious about, but some other evidence appearing right in front of my eyes.

image00Quotas for women.

I’m beginning to suspect that quotas are a macguffin.
I think they’re a diversion from the essence of the real problem.
Let’s start here…

Of course I was going to be interested in this blog….

I work in advertising, I coach. So it’s great to read in a robust study that coaching is supporting success and fulfillment. But something about the context here didn’t feel good. Wasn’t there something slightly ‘field hospital’ about this coaching support?.

The essence of coaching- especially with an ad planner’s spin- is to tune into the real issue, to help reframe and revalue, catalyse change, and to co–create new possibilities. I could see a story about some people beginning to ‘catch up’, but I couldn’t see the new possibilities.

The quoted equal pay report from the Office of National Statistics was pretty depressing. It seems to play into a general mood at the moment.
Frustration and disappointment is being widely expressed – in different ways – at how little has really really changed for women over the last few decades. (And some will say things have gone backwards). You can see how a call for quotas might feel like an answer at first glance.

But watch out for this narrative.

An equally important question is – what’s changed for men?

In the same period of time, it’s looking awfully like an unsustainable and unbearable increase in pressure and stress.

We read that many senior women leave before they get to ‘the top’. Is the glass ceiling – a window? Perhaps having taken a peek through, it would be completely sensible to think twice before opening it.


Sheryl Sandberg is still telling women to ‘Lean In’. But without ever really asking ‘To What?’ If what’s there is not great, why lean in to it? Why prop up something that’s looking broken? Admitting some new (female) members to the status quo is not the same as actively combining different ways of seeing the world, different reads of the situation, or a counter-take on what might be important, in order to forge something new.

I know from the individuals with whom I work professionally that something has gone horribly, horribly wrong in their workplaces.
Men don’t seem happy. Women don’t seem happy. Underlying anxiety mutates into completely understandable defences – anger, resentment, exhaustion and bewilderment.

So I’m thinking of ‘Rear Window’, and how being still, and watching, helped our hero to look again at what was playing out in front of him. Perhaps we’re looking at the wrong window, or a macguffin. We shouldn’t be arguing about quotas. That’s just about how many women join and play the current game. We should be changing the game: for men and women.


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