Sexual predators as a management problem
We are now seeing the hard resistance to the transformational success of #MeToo
This is the beginning of another full paradigm shift in American culture. The first thing that it has shown is the extent of the problem. The media world has carried the majority of the resignations with some spillover into Congress and visible corporate ranks. But Trump still sits in the White House as a massive dead weight. It appears that he will go down for Russian money laundering but perhaps he can be convinced to resign for gender crimes rather than be tagged for money laundering felonies.
The real problem was apparent yesterday when my wife told me that a woman she knows announced that her husband is no longer going to hire women for any position as it is “too dangerous”. Obviously the problem is women and not men. This indicates the true extent of the problem. And of course this is completely political as proper women know their place. Or is that republican women know their place? The place is changing rapidly, just like everything else now, and the fate of old Roy Moore who lost despite the best efforts of his wife who, apparently, has expanded her ‘fellowshipping’ world to include Jewish folks. This obviously didn’t gain the expected response which may have been the result of creating a verb out of fellowship making it too similar to slumming.
Someone will need to help me understand how ‘not hiring women’ anymore will actually solve our problems of sexual abuse. It seems to me that organizations should simply stop hiring men. That actually removes the great bulk of the problem. Not that it makes much more sense but it at least identifies the predominant cause of the difficulty. And, now that I think about, that could solve a whole group of problems. But that is another set of issues.
The real problem is not the guys at the top of misogynistic tower but the training of the young ones at the bottom. Obviously we have an even bigger problem starting from birth as long outdated sex role modeling is at the foundation of crumbling American culture. And that is much more basic than our nearly complete failure to handle racism. Oh yeah, that is all tangled up in this, too.
Having spent more than twenty years in the corporate world with many practical experiences watching predatory males hitting on any woman in the organization with apparent impunity, I have to admit I didn’t put this together too well. Now I’m really upset that I didn’t do more about it. This is, after all, a management problem in any organization that allows this life style to continue.
Working in the media world there are a few more women than in the traditional technical or industrial world although this is changing it is not changing fast enough. The result is a lot of suffering that people have put up with for years. In a small division with only a few hundred people I has to deal with three cases of predatory, abusive males. And I only know about that because my female employees began asking me for help. Each time I had to deal with the manager of the problem person who was lower level middle manager. Looking back now I see that any rise in power, no matter how small, opened the door to threaten women who did not play along. In the first case I had the boss of the individual was a senior manage in the old school. He wondered what my problem was. It took some organizing and talking that combined with the stupid inability of the person causing the trouble to stop led to his resignation for another job. He didn’t get hurt he just was helped to change jobs. That was a pattern. The problem wasn’t what he did but his failure to back off until things calmed down again.
The easiest and, perhaps also, the most indicative of the extent of the problem was a salesman who went after one of my employees. Fortunately he worked a female executive. What? She got him to stop but there was no penalty and I know he simply left my people alone and focused on other departments. Long after this I know that he was accused of domestic violence which did end his career because it was published.
So this is an organizational management problem. The difficulty is the tradition of over reacting. People who work together will develop relationships at work and outside of work. People always manage to have relationships and that is fine as long as they are mutual. If they become abusive it is a larger issue and needs to be dealt with for the sake of the individuals involved and for the health of the organization. If you start losing good people, particularly women, you better figure out what is happening. And, just as in my experience predatory actions can easily be symptoms of pending domestic violence we need to address these as health issues.
One other experience that I had ended up bothering me even more. This came to happen several times at company parties. For whatever reason, probably because I actively defended my female employees, later in the evening I would suddenly find one of our female employees grabbing my arm while I was talking to someone else. She would quickly whisper to me that one of the guys was after her and she was scared of him. I well remember the first time because I understood the fear and had to quickly deal with a woman I barely knew using me as a shield. I knew the worker that was the problem and he had just rushed up and was staring at us together. Afterward, as she was apologizing for embarrassing both of us, she told me he had chased her when she refused to talk to him. The only thing to do was to make it a joke between us and other women recognized the situation. All I could do, formally, was to warn the manager of that person that he needed to be dealt with. Not much happened but I learned to be cool about having this kind of think happen. At least I could help. I’m still not happy that I didn’t do more. Those are only the instances that I was involved in. How much more went on?
We desperately need to fix both our gender role problems and our racist problems. We have allowed individual coping techniques to be ‘good enough’ solutions because that’s all there were. That is obviously not good enough anymore. These build up and, themselves, become part of the problem.
We are seeing that now as political operatives can fake a sexual advance or convert a non-abusive relationship into an issue as a weapon. We know we are seeing that now but it is something that men are going to simply have to deal with until we can make functional, lasting, cultural changes.