Staying on top in the city the Moneypenny way

By Tan Kah Peng

IT’S A jungle out there. Any ambitious woman in the Square Mile would attest to that, and more, in a workplace dominated by male bankers and brokers. 

Survival is the name of the game that requires not only business agility but also some deft footwork both in and outside the office – useful tips from Mrs Moneypenny in her book, appropriately titled Survival in the City

It helps when armed with a pedigree academic record, the right handbag and/or briefcase (not to be caught off-guard, “throw in a mouth-freshener spray”), the urban jungle can be quite a tame place with a soft underbelly. 

When “all the men have high opinions of themselves, are mostly not intellectually challenged and are therefore incredibly susceptible to flattery” who has the edge? 

Women, says Mrs Moneypenny, and if they use their femininity to maximum effect as “My Cleverest Girlfriend” has done – “the more of a girl you are the less of a threat you are” – it makes the workplace more comfortable. 

Never wear a wedding ring (“I don’t want judgments about my level of commitment on the basis of my jewellery collection”) and adopt the language of men (“produce a sports roundup each morning”). 

Having a miserable time under a lousy boss with his endless sexist comments? 

Forget about going to HR with a formal complaint. A fund manager just worked out a devious way to get assigned to a different boss. 

Outside, perfect the art of buttering up the clients as her “Most Socially Acceptable Girlfriend” does with lots of alcohol and loads of empty words that massage the male ego really well. 

When caught in the somewhat awkward position of finding themselves outside the bedroom door after theatre or dinner – “all in the interests of getting the deal done” – the ready-made strategy is quite simple. 

“If only I wasn’t married you would be top of the list” or the other way round, “If only you weren’t married you would be top of the list.” 

The City is a tough place, and the trading floor reminds an Australian woman of a shearing shed: the only difference is that they don’t wear singlets but suits and both “are equally coarse.” 

So how to survive? Easy, just “behave the same way as men do in the City” is Mrs Moneypenny’s way to beat the guys at their own game. The problem is “women are just not made like that.” 

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