Dear Male Manager,
What are you afraid of?
According to a study by LEAN IN, almost half of you are uncomfortable engaging in one or more common work activities with women – such as working one on one, or socializing – and one in six of you is uncomfortable mentoring a female colleague.
This discomfort supposedly stems from the #MeToo movement.
These statistics made me wonder, do you truly have so little control over your own actions? Are you so easily tempted to act out of line that dining out with any woman but your wife, makes you fearful? Why? Sexual harassment is not something that happens outside of your control: you don’t accidentally slap a female colleague’s ass or unwittingly make a crass comment about her body. You’re consciously there the whole time and you can choose to take control of your words and actions.
However, instead of taking accountability for your behaviour, you dump the negative effects of your fear on the women in your company: “Companies seeking to minimize the risk of sexual harassment or misconduct appear to be simply minimizing contact between female employees and senior male executives, effectively depriving the women of valuable mentorship and exposure”.
But it should not be women who have to face the consequences of your fear.
If you are afraid working closely with a woman will lead to sexual misconduct on your part, that’s on you. Not on any of the women you’re working with. The only way to justly combat your fear of #MeToo is by changing your own ideas about how you treat female co-workers, and by addressing a possible culture of toxic masculinity in the office. If you can rely on yourself to treat the women in your office with the same respect and in the same way you would any male employee, there really is nothing to fear.