Answer me this. Have you ever had an awkward encounter at the start or end of a meeting where you go to shake hands whilst the other person goes for a kiss on the cheek?
The professional greeting. It's a dance fraught with social expectation. Some opt for the well respected and courteous handshake, others for a kiss on the cheek, some go for two kisses (not to mention the Dutch are in for three!) and finally the super keen go full out with the big hug.
I've personally always found the expectation in a professional environment an unnecessary worry.
You start a professional greeting with the handshake. Then after a few meetings, lunch, even maybe a drink you begin to build a relationship with that person. It's still a professional relationship mind you, but one that might now include the odd transcript from the "how was your weekend” chat that transposes "yeah good thank you" to include banter about how the weekend consisted of your 80-year-old grandmother getting drunk at the family BBQ and trying to limbo.
The professional relationship might develop, and interaction become more frequent. So you find yourself moving to the kiss on the cheek greeting. But this isn't dating for goodness sake! What then happens if you encounter a difficult conversation with that contact, say an invoicing issue, problem with the service delivered, or even a potential end to the relationship between the two companies you represent. Can you go backwards from the kiss to the handshake?!?
Maybe I overthink it, but it feels to me that this salutation dilemma highlights there is still a behavioural difference between gender in the professional space. Not worthy of scrutiny in the same way that the gender pay gap or diversity at leadership level is of course. And this isn't something restricted to male vs female interaction. There is just as much potential for social faux pas when it comes to two women greeting.
I'm going to put it out there, wouldn't life be far more simple if the norm was just the hand shake? Gender-neutral. Polite. Consistent.
I applaud other cultures and nations where the handshake is the standard. It certainly would make life easier because we're all busy people and at the end of the day who really wants the bother of giving any thought to such a menial but perpetual part of our professional interactions?
One downside to this would be the loss of the obligatory awkward story about "a colleague who got it horribly wrong and went in for the kiss..."