Magazine article Working Mother

Changing the Culture of Sexual Harassment

Magazine article Working Mother

Changing the Culture of Sexual Harassment

Article excerpt

ust when you thought things couldn't get any worse, they did! I'm talking about sexual bullying, innuendos, harassment and assaults in the workplace. We can be deluded into thinking this is a recent pattern. It is not. We can consider Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer. But this is not merely an entertainment-/mediaindustry issue. This is relevant wherever a power dynamic is in play, where a male-dominated culture can be a sense of immunity from being found out-or believed if called out.

As women, we've known that childbearing and child-rearing can derail our ambitions and careers. We've also understood the negative impact of not getting male allyship in early and midcareer. Sexual harassment, while widely experienced, has been kept undercover; the isolation of women's experiences-and their unwillingness or inability to speak openly about them-kept this third rail from being exposed. We must not overlook the courage required for women to speak out: fear ofjob loss, being denied advancement opportunities, being attacked professionally or physically. With the #metoo campaign, the sheer volume of women speaking out about their experiences of being sexually bullied by male colleagues and powerful senior men makes it clear that many women's careers have been stunted. Think of what might have been?

I began my career as a commodities trader, and my aspirations required that I be a pioneer. The roles that involved advancement simply did not have a history of people who fit my profile: woman trader, person of color, immigrant, married and having a child, while on the job, and-the ultimate surprise-a top producer. While sexist and crude jokes ruled the day, they were never directed toward me, at least not to my face. I didn't appreciate how lucky I was to be in a role that measured you so objectively; all that really mattered was your trading prowess. When you were a rookie and at the base of the power hierarchy, you got picked on unrelentingly; it didn't matter whether you were male or female, citizen or immigrant, young or old.

It wasn't till I became a wealth adviser that I saw the depth and breadth of the misogyny. …

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