In the news that caught our attention this week, we learned that women still lag behind in the workplace: gender equality is in the list of commitments of most companies, but women remain underrepresented on all corporate levels, according to a study done by McKinsey and LeanIn.Org.
The feminist narrative, now a common one for most companies, is the one that promotes equality between sexes in all areas of life, so of course implies that women should have the same representation on all corporate levels. But some may think that it actually dictates that women must look in their life for exactly the same jobs as men and should not develop other interests - this is of course taking it to the extreme.
But if you look at today’s landscape and its evolution, you’ll see that we’re never far from taking any narrative to the extreme.
Today, besides the lack of representation, women in the workplace face a number of other obstacles: everyday discrimination, the so-called confidence gap and, of course, the recently much talked-about sexual harassment.
According to the report, 35 % of women in corporate America experience sexual harassment at some point in their careers.
The McKinsey study offers companies solutions for turning their commitments into action, including the commitments to eliminate sexual harassment. But it may be harder than it seems, especially in some fields. We mentioned taking narratives to the extreme, and if we look at today’s landscape, we’re never far from it : the #metoo movement, nurtured by the same anti-harassment agenda, might actually harm the equal representation story because of its interpretation by some men (and maybe even women). On Wall Street, for example, a big part of men now have a “avoid women at all costs” policy, which, ironically, often results in hiring less women, instead of more.
- Is this an indication that, even in the age of highly developed communication methods, one of the biggest movements of recent years (#metoo) has a communication problem? Has it gone too far and made some men feel threatened instead?
- Is it, in fact, a communication problem, or an interpretation one? In the age of social media and the difficulty to verify the news that we encounter on the internet, where people often believe others selectively, has it become too easy to falsely accuse others?