Virtual Thoughts on Discrimination in the Workplace

This blog post was published March 1, 2010, by our CEO, Amy Pritchard. “Discrimination and sexism in the work place” continues to be an important, ongoing conversation, and so we thought it was important to repost it from our archives.  Please read and leave your thoughts in the comments! – Izzy.

cheap-school-uniforms1This weekend, I had a group of people tell me that my assigned value in this profession is less than a male head of household.  It was assumed that since I am female, that I have to work more, sacrifice more, and earn less, because males have to “provide for their families”.  Shocking.  I know.  Shocking.  But it did get me thinking about why I previously haven’t really encountered such blatant sexism in my professional career to date.

One of the reasons I was quite certain Metaverse Mod Squad would be successful as a concept when I first started this company 2.5 years ago, was my own personal experience of a sense of leveling that the internet brought to human interaction.

When I made friends online, it wasn’t based on geographical desirability, or economic background, or education or race or gender or anything really except this here is a GD interesting person to talk to.  And it occurred to me that so much of our workplace hangups would be eliminated in a virtual workplace.  All the sudden the fact that you might be seen as “too old” at 65 to sell clothes at The Gap, would in no way prevent you from being a virtual salesperson for this same company.  It was all about performance and results.  If you can sell clothes, I don’t care if you are tall, short, young, old, thin, stout, man, woman, able bodied, or handicapped, all I am thinking as a manager is DANG, that person can sell clothes!!!!

I spent the first 10 years of my professional life as an attorney.  Woman in a man’s world, I am TELLING you.  But oddly enough, I only found the sexism mildly amusing at worst.  And sometimes, underestimating me led to some pretty spectacular sneak victories in court.  But I think now that I was extremely lucky that my employers and eventually law partners never saw my being a woman as any different than any other lawyer out there.  I honestly can say I was never paid less, overlooked for opportunities, nor garnered even an ounce less respect than my male counterparts.

After starting this company, I had new challenges.  Not only a woman in a man’s world, but a woman in man’s world in a man’s industry.  One of my great friends in this space tweeted to me that one of the reasons she shortened her name was that nobody was ever quite sure whether she was a man or woman until she met them in person.  Working virtually like we do, it is AMAZING how all those societal boundaries can melt away.  I have had the benefit while heading up this company of hiring and having on my team the absolute BEST people on the planet at their jobs.  I never thought about any other factor than, do you kick ass.  This is true for hires, raises, promotion, and just overall general love from me.

I don’t ever (as a society) want to give up what makes us individuals as that makes us so stinking interesting.  But I do think that one of the major glaring advantages of a virtual workplaces is tapping into talent that traditional business and companies overlook.  In a virtual setting, the focus is entirely on results, not on the outside package.  I think of the internet as a company’s school uniform…. and then some.

Amy Pritchard

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