This particular blog is for big girls and boys; and like a shot of Hennessy - it will sting a bit. This will not be my usual “you’ve got everything you need to thrive living in and on purpose” content. We’ll get back to that, but for now ... this one. I recently read the Bloomberg article "Wall Street Rule for the #MeToo Era: Avoid Women at All Costs" and was immediately disgusted. Yes, disgust is the most accurate representation of my thoughts after reading.
As a domestic and sexual assault thriver, the fundamental question I’ve been perplexed with since my first abusive experience is, "Why is the female body always up for grabs?" It is often times seen as a tool or object that was placed on earth solely for the fulfillment of men to be used and discarded. Whether it’s for promotions, shelter, or personal growth. Way too many times, a woman’s sexual organs, it seems, are considered a part of the service offerings - even when it’s not listed. Who raised these men?
This is a global, cultural and systemic problem that plagues women from every shape, size, shade, religion and ethnicity. Whether you’re covered from your head to your toes, or relishing proudly in your femininity men from way too many walks of life feel the need to literally and figuratively try and inject themselves into our bodies. From old, white men (and even some women - lawd help them) doing their best to legislatively tell women how and when their uteruses should be used. To every industry from finance, government, and tech to sports, media and entertainment.
Karen Elinski, president of the Financial Women’s Association and a senior vice president at Wells Fargo & Co. said it best when Bloomberg quoted her, “It’s a real loss.” It’s a loss in potential talent and opportunity for both sides. It’s not prudent, nor does it make good business sense considering the myriad of stats that support women in leadership roles. The Peterson Institute for International Economics survey of over 21,500 companies from over 90 countries found that having women at the C-Suite level significantly increases net margins. In addition, there is significant evidence that shows gender diversity increases profitability, respectability and innovation. Without mentorship, sponsorship, and opportunity qualified female candidates are dramatically decreased. Wall Street's response addresses the side effects and symptoms without acknowledging the actual issue. And I get it, the resounding thought I’m sure is how do we begin to solve an issue that is so seemingly insurmountable? I’ll provide more detailed action steps below, but we start first with changing the culture. I called Wall Street petty AF because it is. I said what I said and who gon check me? Not today please, I took my b-12 vitamin so I have all the energy. As brilliant as many of them are, the decision to not mentor women because of the considerable “unknown risk” is not only cowardly, but it’s disgusting! It further feeds the culture that men simply cannot bare to control themselves. It not only belittles men, but takes away their power to chose to do the right thing.
The phrase that “boys will be boys” should be abolished from the hearts and minds of every human. There will be no considerable or unknown risk if from children men are taught about explicit consent, abuse of power, and the responsibility they have first to themselves and then to those they will one day lead. Yes, it sounds heavy because it is. Life’s heavy, better start strengthening your muscles.
The insipid ideology that it’s better to stunt the growth of women across entire sectors and industries is pious in virtue. Women are punished for the acts of men. The all-to-consistent monologue is that it’s completely acceptable for men to abuse, harass, beg, petition, and leverage their power against women sexually and still advance.
It’s time to put forth actionable steps and start questioning the insanity. If you missed everything else I said, here are three OTHER ways Wall Street and men across all industries can “protect” themselves and the people, especially women, they lead and work with:
Employ a no fraternization policy between leaders and subordinates AND provide letters of reference for those in power who determine the pursuit of a relationship is more valuable than the position in the company.
If the above is too harsh, utilize Consensual Relationship Forms that clearly define the policy and allow for protection of both parties and includes signatures by both parties consenting to the relationship (or courtship).
Craft VERY clear and agreed upon guidelines around employee fraternization and conduct trainings with male and female employees on appropriate and acceptable ways to conduct themselves in the myriad of businesses situations that can and do occur. These trainings should be mandatory and conducted semi-annually for all employees. Each training should conclude with the resources to report inappropriate behavior, and the steps and actions that are taken if reports are made.
The above seeks to solve root problems, focuses on accountability, and teaches the fundamentals of consent. Wall Street and too many other industries’ response is completely erroneous. It’s flawed in that it doesn’t require men to answer or adjust their behavior when things are inappropriate or flat out wrong. It protects and covers their misdeeds. It answers the very real issue with a response that further perpetuates outdated ideals, “It’s not his fault, she should cover up, adjust, and shrink.” Sorry boys, but that era is over. Time’s up. Do better!