The law of unintended consequences appears to be paying a visit to the #MeToo movement. A new survey indicates that male professionals are now significantly more unwilling to take on the role of mentor for female colleagues, hold one-on-one meetings with them or meet with women after hours and outside the workplace. While this was predicted early on by some, this is the first tangible evidence that it’s already happening. (Fortune)
One of the unintended consequences of the #MeToo movement seems to be the alienation of male mentors.
A new set of findings from women’s empowerment non-profit LeanIn.Org and online survey platform SurveyMonkey reveal that, since the media reports of sexual harassment first emerged last fall, male managers are three times as likely to say they are uncomfortable mentoring women and twice as uncomfortable working alone with a woman. The hesitation to meet with women outside of work is even more pronounced: Senior men were 3.5 times more likely to hesitate having a work dinner with a junior female colleague than a male one–and five times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior woman.
So this is coming from a non-profit group, and their founder, Sheryl Sandberg, is already raising the alarm, saying this will lead to the isolation and “icing out” of female professionals. So how do you fight against something like this? With a hashtag, of course. So keep an eye out for #MentorHer on social media this week because that’s apparently going to solve everything.
In all seriousness, how did people think that male professionals were going to react? To be clear, if the current movement stops men who are actual predators from abusing women in the workplace (or anywhere else for that matter) then a great deal of good has been accomplished. But enough of the stories we’ve heard thus far have been sketchy enough in their details that men who likely weren’t guilty of assaulting or even harassing anyone were obviously going to be getting nervous. Aziz Ansari comes to mind immediately.
If the impression is now out there that a bad date (which was agreed to) can land you in the #MeToo spotlight, why would you even take the chance of agreeing to a dinner meeting to mentor someone? Or, at a minimum, some measure of self-protection is probably going to need to be put in place.
Knowing full well how insane this is going to sound, there’s probably an opportunity here for someone to come up with a civilian, personal equivalent to the body cams that police around the country are now routinely wearing. And this wouldn’t just be for off-site meetings, but in the office as well. To avoid privacy problems, the manager or mentor would probably need to inform the female employee or protege that he’s using one. That may lead to some women feeling less comfortable speaking candidly and asking questions, but should it? If the purpose of the meeting is strictly professional and there’s no obvious benefit in making the recording public, nobody should have to worry.
But if the woman later comes up with an accusation, we wouldn’t have to worry about the He Said She Said game. If the guy truly believes that he was acting appropriately, the immediate answer could be, “Well… let’s go to the tape.” Problem solved.
As I said, some of you are no doubt going to say this sounds crazy. Perhaps it does. But we’re living in an increasingly crazy society these days and we may wind up without any better options.