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Kooky Facebook COO says #MeToo hasn’t gone far enough

Even though, in the wake of the empowerment movement #MeToo, almost half of male managers are now uncomfortable working with, socialising with, or mentoring, women.

In an interview with Bloomberg this past week, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, Inc, and author of “Lean In”, a book in which she describes how to make it in a male-dominated business world, says that the #MeToo movement hasn’t gone far enough.

She says “The question is not if #MeToo has gone too far, but if #MeToo has gone far enough. Because it can’t just be a moment in time, where people raise their voice. These brave women who have raised their voices, they want longstanding change.”

However, Sandberg’s organisation conducted a survey, #MentorHer, which produced findings that indicate that the atmosphere that the #MeToo movement has created is one that isn’t entirely one that benefits women when it comes to advancing in their careers. These are some of their findings:

  • Almost half of male managers are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together.
  • Almost 30% of male managers are uncomfortable working alone with a woman—more than twice as many as before.
  • The number of male managers who are uncomfortable mentoring women has more than tripled from 5% to 16%. This means that 1 in 6 male managers may now hesitate to mentor a woman.
  • Senior men are 3.5 times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner with a junior-level woman than with a junior-level man—and 5 times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior-level woman.

With this kind of outcome, while much of the management and upper level business environments are male dominated business fields, it stands to reason that more women will be alienated from activities that could lead to advancement in their careers.

Sandberg expressed in a Facebook post this past Tuesday that this “undoubtedly will decrease the opportunities women have at work.”

“The last thing women need right now is even more isolation. Men vastly outnumber women as managers and senior leaders, so when they avoid, ice out, or exclude women, we pay the price.”

“If we’re going to change the power imbalance that enables so much sexual harassment in the first place, we need to ensure women get more mentorship and sponsorship, not less.”

“That’s how we get the stretch assignments that lead to promotions. That’s how we build the networks that put us on the path to exciting opportunities. That’s how we get the respect – and recognition – we deserve.”

When an accusation, all on its own, is capable of destroying a career, any career, and those accusations are given a sort of golden status, the prospect of a legitimately nontoxic coed business environment becomes more and more threatened as the basic business ingredient of trust becomes one of suspicion. With more men refusing to work with women over it, this threatens the legitimate application of a coed business environment. Eventually it turns into “don’t hire women”, and that, of course, is already a form of illegal discrimination. For business managers, it’s being between a rock and a hard spot.

If this is the influence on professional culture that the #MeToo movement has fostered thus far, and Sandberg is of the opinion that it hasn’t gone far enough, then the question is, how much further is “far enough”, and how will the business environment respond to that?

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