Career Advice From the ‘Boys Club Seduction’ Guide Merrill Lynch Gave Female Trainees

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Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Three women suing Merrill Lynch for gender discrimination say they were fired for failing to “seduce the boys club,” the New York Post reports. Seriously: Female trainees were allegedly given copies of a book called Seducing the Boys Club: Uncensored Tactics From a Woman at the Top, and ordered to attend a lecture by author Nina DiSesa, the first female chairwoman at ad giant McCann Erickson. Other alleged girls-only duties included answering phones, being “perky” and “bubbly,” and attending events on topics like “dressing for success” and “preparing healthy meals while working full-time.” But the book alone would be enough to make a gal litigious.

Until the feminist revolution is complete, DiSesa writes, women need to act as much like men as possible. “Men feel comfortable with their own kind,” she notes. If they must be womanly, they should leverage their feminine wiles to seduce and manipulate (S&M, in her cheeky parlance) their male counterparts. DiSesa nurtures the colleagues she refers to as the “Bad Boys on [Floor] 27” until they no longer fear competition, sugarcoats criticism to protect their egos, and serves as an unholy mother-girlfriend-bro figure. We skimmed Seducing the Boys Club this morning for these representative tips:

On performance reviews:

This works with all men when I want them to stop behaving badly. “I don’t know why I’m so crazy about you when you act like such a prick.” What this says is that I love them in spite of their faults, but I still see their faults and I want them fixed.

On collaboration:

It was also important to reinforce his hunk status, assuring him that the small bald spot at the top of his head was hardly noticeable and that he hadn’t “lost it” when a woman would break up with him or refuse to date him (a rare event). He needed to know that he had my love unconditionally; it was the only way he could ever trust me with his fragile ego.

On time management:

I play on their masculine pride and natural instincts to protect the weaker sex.

“I can’t figure this out, and I’m exhausted,” I will say to one of the men at the office. “And if it’s not done by tomorrow, I’m dead.”

“I’ll do it,” he’ll invariably say. But his rescue mission won’t be truly satisfying to him unless I show my appreciation for the sacrifice he is making on my behalf. This is as crucial as saying thank you.

“No, no, you’re swamped, too,” I’ll say.

“I’ll make the time for it.”

“Thank you. I love you.”

“I know. You’re welcome.”

It’s like great sex. Everyone walks away feeling fulfilled.

On networking:

We decided to meet over lunch, which meant I would have about an  hour to position myself as the best and strongest candidate for the job. Jim had a full beard in those days and the lobster salad sandwich he had ordered was full of mayonnaise that was getting all over his beard. I sweetly pointed out to him that he would need a shower when were finished with lunch, and did he notice how neat my lunch was? “I’ve out-ordered you,” I said to him. “Want my napkin?”

On team-building:

Maggie was a smart woman who worked with male colleagues who always excluded her. The men would hang out with one another and make business decisions while they were out drinking, having lunch, or playing pool. She could have whined and complained that they were not being team players, but that would only have made them excluded her more. Instead Maggie asked herself, what do men love? Beer. Candy. Toys. So she stocked her mini fridge with beer along with her designer water; she kept a big bowl of candy on her desk, she brought in games like boggle and checkers. Pretty soon the boys were hang out in her office, and when they discussed things of business interest, Maggie was right there with them.

On negotiations:

“If you know you are going to have a contentious meeting with a man, you can defuse his anger before he even opens his mouth. Unless he is morbidly obese, there is no man on earth who won’t puff up at this sentence: Wow, you look great. Been working out?

Of course, these are all just stop-gap measures until women can rule the world benevolently — DiSesa says she believes in radical female supremacy — but you'll have to read the whole book. Somehow I doubt Merrill Lynch did.

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