An afternoon spent in the House of Lords today convinces me that Sandi's six o'clock rule deserves wider coverage than the passing mention in my blog Puckering up, posted on 31 March.
I was there in the beautiful Attlee Room to chair the Enterprising Women Forum, organised by the Pink Shoes Club's indefatigible Helene Martin Gee in association with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Entrepreneurship. After discussing micro-finance, compliance and wealth creation, debate moved towards managing male/female relationships in the workplace. One delegate commented about using feminity in the workplace, another on how difficult it was for young men to know the appropriate way to greet female colleagues.
So I shared my socio/business rule, developed after years of being the only woman in business meetings and in the boardroom.
Quite simply, before six pm I shake hands with men and women colleagues, fellow directors and clients. This means that meetings start on a businesslike and equitable footing for all. After six pm the continental greeting of a kiss on both cheeks is welcome from those whom I know well and with whom I have a friendly and social relationship. My male colleagues know what to do, those whom I have only just met do not feel they have been excluded. We all know where we stand - and we can get on with the business of business.