Dita De Boni 's Opinion

Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni: Kiwi men the best of mates

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Company boards are just another example of blokes getting on better with blokes.

Illustration / Anna Crichton
Illustration / Anna Crichton

There's been lots of talk about being gay just recently. It's been a subject close to the hearts of social liberals and religious conservatives for a long time, granted, but surely we haven't seen so widespread a conversation about the sexual proclivities of a large group of consenting adults for quite a while. Unless one counts the current mass-market, faux-perversity engendered by 50 Shades of Grey, of course.

It seems incredible that we are still even debating gay marriage in the year 2012, so innocuous has it become for the public at large. Perhaps we should be having a conversation about plain ol' vanilla-flavoured heterosexual marriage instead, because it's that set-up that, on paper at any rate, looks least likely to reflect well on the institution as a whole. Mars and Venus cohabiting does not always equal a happy solar system.

My husband and I - happily married, may I add - or as happily married as you can be with joint cases of chronic sleep deprivation because of young children - were talking about gay marriage after reading that TV3 reporter David Farrier had 'come out' as being in a gay relationship.

"Wow, imagine that!" said Ali. His eyes looked strangely glossy. "That would be ... great!"

My dear husband was not referring to the sexual side of things (if he was, he's done an incredible job of staying in the closet through seven years of marriage and three children). In his mind's eye, I am sure, he was thinking of a relationship consisting of free-flowing conversations about cricket, rugby, and music trivia, punctuated by periods of thinking of nothing at all (or perhaps large-breasted Swedes), and none of which would be punctuated by a wife handing him lists of chores, or yabbering on about the latest butt-sculpting Kim Kardashian-endorsed Shape-Up sneakers (which, when I put them on to model, he declared made me look like an orthopaedic patient).

His enthusiasm for everything bar the backdoor shenanigans confirmed what I had always suspected about the average Kiwi male. He is, in fact, homosexual in every way except for the sex. And that is not in any way meant as derogatory to anyone: it's just a very strong impression that Homo Novo Zelandiae almost always prefers the company of other men - or at least, is more comfortable with the largely unthreatening male tableau of conversation topics.

I feel strongly that this preference for male company spills over to the world of work, where the 'glass ceiling' consists of a group of guys in entrenched positions of power who, quite frankly, find the female perspective not only unfathomable, but quite frequently painful. Perhaps like many husbands, if my experience is anything to go by.

It's a clique mentality found around the board tables of many companies - but it's not nefarious. Most of us prefer to interact with people who are in tune with us.

The thing is, living in a male dominated echo chamber is not good for business - especially if much of your staff and many of your customers are women. If businesses don't open themselves up to diverse points of view - be they women, different cultures, or any other 'difference' - they will be unable to chart a bold course.

Successful heterosexual marriage, with its enforced diversity, is probably quite a good model for business.

From both sides, when it's working well, there is a mixing of ideas, a melding of minds - and a hell of a lot of discreetly executed tuning out.

* Illustration by Anna Crichton: illustrator@annacrichton.com

- NZ Herald

Dita De Boni

Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni is a columnist, commentator and TV producer/journalist. She first wrote columns for the NZ Herald in 1995, moving to daily business news in 1999 for four years, and then to TVNZ in Business, News and Current Affairs. After tiring of the parenting/blogging beat for the Herald Online she moved back to her first love, business (with a politics chaser), writing a column for Friday Business since 2012.

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