To anyone in the workforce at any level who is paying attention, it is obvious that gender politics play an important role. With the emergence of the #MeToo movement, the deeper and more disturbing issue of sexual harassment in the workplace have been brought to the forefront, as well. As a law firm, we have been on the forefront of helping women who have suffered sexual harassment and other forms of harassment and mistreatment in the workplace. Our white paper (Fighting Back: The Changing Landscape of Workplace Harassment) discusses this issue at length, and anyone who has experienced harassment should fight back.
The Global Issue
Although legal representation is critical at the individual level, it does dismiss or discredit the importance of handling the problem on a more global level. Yes, a lawsuit does put employers, bosses and male colleagues on alert and can make the workplace somewhat safer, but what can be done to make women feel more connected, safe and empowered in the workplace?
Power in Numbers
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, one of the most important factors for women feeling safe and empowered in the workplace is other women in similar positions with them.
This is particularly important at the higher levels of leadership. It seems that the higher a woman goes up the corporate ladder, the less female colleagues she will find around her at the same level.
“While women and men enter the workforce in roughly equal numbers, women fall behind in promotions from the very first step onto the management ladder… By the senior-manager level, men outnumber women two to one, and in the C-suite, just 22% are women.”
The point is this: the fewer women around, the more susceptible they are to harassment from their male colleagues. Thus, if companies want to help their female employees be safe and protected in the workplace, they need to provide more equal opportunities for their female employees in the area of advancement.
Only when employers begin implementing more equitable advancement practices will women be truly safe and empowered in American workplaces.