#metoo movement

It’s been a year since #metoo movement gained popularity in the west. Many celebrities, public figures, business men have been accused of sexual harassment. It was like a wild fire that spread rapidly and as is the case with wild fires, #metoo movement is also being surrounded by unwanted aftermaths.

The new anti-women strategy being adopted throughout Wall Street

In United States, the side effects are already starting to make women life more miserable. All over Wall Street (a financial market that is considered the business hub of US) the new strategy to shun women employees has been adopted. It is reported by Bloomberg journalists that most men at prestigious positions are encouraging zero to no contact with women recruits. That means no official meeting behind closed doors, no dinner with female colleagues, no flight sharing and to book rooms on different floors if residing in the same hotel while on an official tour.

The pence effect and its side effects

Throughout Wall Street, many men are channeling Pence effect related to Mark Pence (VP United States) who denied drinking or dining with any women besides his wife. A similar attitude is adopted by many men in the business sector who are scared of working around any women especially young or attractive female lest they are falsely blamed for the offense they never committed.

According to reports, one particular employer said that he had made a new rule with help of his attorney wife that no dining or drinking with women who is 35 or younger. Another manager at infrastructure sector said he won’t entertain any women in a room without windows and will keep his distance in elevators too.

This kind of behavior will undoubtedly lead to gender discrimination which itself is a serious dilemma. If you are going to cut out women from all kind of official gathering and meeting for the fear of being harassed, it is going to have adverse affects on a woman’s career. Wall Street is previously known as hushing up sexual harassment cases to keep them hidden from public eyes to protect their biggest revenue generators.

Gender segregation: an unwanted outcome

Interview with some 30 senior executive revealed the fact that many people are scared of being falsely accused of harassment.  Working around female colleagues is like “creating a sense of walking on eggshells” said David Bahnsen, former MD at Morgan Stanley.

“If men avoid working and traveling alone with women, or stop mentoring women for the fear of being falsely accused of sexual harassment, those men are going to back out of a sexual harassment complaint and straight into a sex discrimination complaint”

said Stephan Zweig, an attorney at Ford Harrison.

There are not many women on senior executive or higher positions in Wall Street which just shows how gender discrimination is already playing heavy role in the corporate sector. According to some stats, women occupy only 15% of executive positions while the ratio of men executive is as high as 85%. On senior managerial posts, women are sitting on 26% seats while men occupy majority of 74% seats.

Male dominance and lack of women mentors

The male dominance in Wall Street is apparent from these figures, where only way for a woman to climb up the promotional ladder is through the mentorship of her seniors. Lisa Kaufmen, chief executive officer at LaSalle securities says

“There aren’t enough women in senior positions to bring along the next generation all by themselves. Advancement typically requires that someone at a senior level knows your work, gives you opportunities and is willing to champion you within the firm. It’s hard to relationship like that to develop if the senior person is unwilling to spend one-on-one time with a more junior person.”

Let not fear be barrier

“Men need to step up and let not fear be a barrier” said Lisa Kaufman.

Some men are also seeing things in different light and they think that gender segregation is not the only solution to cope with the affects of #metoo movement. An investment advisor shared his thoughts about avoiding one-on-one meetings with female colleagues, leaving the room door open or inviting third party to the meeting.

Eventually he arrived on a pretty simple and easy solution “try not to be an as***le”

As Ron Biscardi, CEO of context capital partners put it “it’s not that hard”

What needs to be done

In 21st century gender segregation is really not a solution so we need to search for more practical solution that should not harm women progress through her career.

“Women are grasping for ideas on how to deal with it, because it is affecting our careers. It’s a real loss.”

Said Karen Elinski, president of financial women foundation.

Will aftermath of #metoo movement trickle down to Pakistan as well?

Well, Pakistan still lags behind in its acceptance of #metoo movement. Leave alone addressing the grievances of the victims; even proper inquiries have not been done.

Junaid Akram harasser

People blamed on social media for harassment continue to thrive in our society. Junaid Akram a standup comedian just made a round of LUMS; one of the most prestigious and progressive institute of Pakistan.

All this has been due to deeply penetrated patriarchy in the society. We might need a few more years for our leaders to understand the gravity of the situation.

metoo pakistan

All this anti-woman campaign against women in official workplaces highlights the need of some sort of legislation that can protect women as a gender. Governments should step in and make a law that necessitates for the firms to recruit certain ratio of female employees. This will help in protecting women career in male dominant sectors.

Men should also reconsider their attitudes toward women and just try to understand the concept of “YES” and “NO”. To keep things professional despite how a woman dress or speak or behave is going to eliminate the risk of being accused of sexual offense for men.

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