Citibank Tells Women How Not to Sabotage Careers: Follow-up

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Read the post that started all the fuss. Read the post that continues it**.

Citi’s advice to women
11. Grow Testicles

[update] Commenter “Jessica” wrote on the previous post:

As a female employee at Citi, I have one of these on my desk. They were NOT handed out by the HR department, but rather by the Head of Diversity, Patricia David, who is no longer with the firm. (Currently at JP Morgan I believe.) They are handed out at workshops geared towards women, often hosted by “Women’s Councils” that exist in various Citi locations.

When a friend who interviewed at Citibank showed me the card above, we shared it among friends and laughed at its ridiculousness on so many levels. I posted a photo of the card here but didn’t think it would get much of a response. I was right. It languished in my sad, little corner of the Internet garnering a only a few hits. Two days ago, a friend who reads the online business tabloid Dealbreaker, told me to send my post to Dealbreaker editor Bess Levin.

You know that post about the tips to women from Citigroup?? If I may, I think you should send a link of that post over to Bess Levin at Dealbreaker. It is perfect for her and if I remember, she has not uncovered that piece of paper yet. She loves to pick up on women in finance stuff AND she likes to make fun of citigroup. She will definitely link from Dealbreaker to your blog, which will get you viewership.

I shot Ms. Levin an hopeful e-mail, and she responded, “wow…is that real??” I said I’m neither creative enough to come up with ten whole bullet points or motivated enough to print and laminate the card. Coming up with something for a birthday card is hard enough. And if the photo was a hoax, don’t you think I’d catch the “therefore you are not get taken seriously” typo in #7. Come on, Citi. Can’t you spare some i-banking analysts from writing prospectus summaries to spellcheck that card?

Ms. Levin agreed to post the photo and link back to my blog. The blogosphere’s response has been, to put it lightly, somewhat loud:

How to write a viral blog post
Traffic to my blog.

It started on Dealbreaker where comments ranged from

#11 -Typically give terrible head in the conference room.

to

Yeah, right? I mean wtf? If I were a competent female Citigroup employee I’d be seriously po’d at this. Totally insulting. A woman doesn’t get ahead in this biz by acting like a douchebag guy with no sense of humor. She gets ahead like anyone else– being good at her JOB.

Being well dressed and hot is also a plus, especially if you’re in a client/counterparty facing role.

-a heterosexual WASP who is amazed he’s actually commenting like this but anyway

Jezebel, Gothamist, Business Insider, Big Think, and even the LA Times blog posted the photo. So I got my first viral blog post. My fifteen seconds of fame in the blogosphere brings mixed feelings, however. Hell, this even provoked a comment from a Citi spokesperson, according to the LA Times:

A Citi spokesperson said, “The material in question is not part of Citi’s formal leadership training or human resources communications. It appears to have been taken from a published book by a noted author in the field of executive coaching.”

My rationale and defense for posting the photo rests on the fact that this card is not confidential information and it’s…thought-provoking. Releasing something like this on the web, the wild, wild west of all mediums, however, has the danger of distortion and exaggeration. Just imagine a game of telephone with thousands of people, some don’t listen carefully while others are just mildly retarded. So I clarified some things with my source who passed me the photo.

According to my friend, this card was on some of the desks on a floor he suspects was the human resources department. It is unclear how these cards fit in with official company training material, how widely and to which employees Citibank distributed them, or the financial institution’s broader policy towards women in the workplace. I personally don’t doubt that Citibank takes its treatment of female employees very seriously and that this card was handed out with the best of intentions.

The ten points are taken from an actual book titled Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by a woman who earned a Ph.D. in psychology. At first, I thought the book was written in 1960. It was published in 2004. Amazon tells me customers who bought this book also bought

Lois P. Frankel describes herself as an “existential clinician.” I kid you not. She has a website here that offers keynote speeches and workshops for woman who want to “get & keep the job [they] want.” But that’s another post for another time.