#MeToo may have led to #NotHer in the workplace

Don Ames
October 11, 2018 - 8:14 am

Has the #Me Too movement had unintended negative consequences for women in the workplace?

Confusion about workplace etiquette may have led to fewer opportunities for women as male executives struggle to adjust to the new rules of engagement. 

A recent poll by LeanIn.org found increasing reluctance from men in positions of authority to hire women, or work closely with current female employees. UNO business professor, Mark Rosa, says there's a lot of confusion now about workplace etiquette.

"The environment is contaminated," Rosa says. "You don't know what to say anymore. Something that you may have said decades ago could come back to ruin my career. So, I think people are grappling with the idea of 'How do I protect myself going forward'."

#MeToo has increased awareness of harassment, but also led to increasing reluctance from men in positions of authority to even hire women.

"I think that's on the front of peoples' minds, not on the back of peoples' minds. How does this contribute to the mix that we have already at the office. It's almost like a profiling thought that I can see running through managers' minds."

And, they may also be reluctant to work closely with female employees. Thet've grown more uncomfortable mentoring women than before, in some cases declining to hold one-on-one meetings with female employees.

"If you're in an environment where somebody could say something and you don't have another witness to possibly diffuse that, I think that's what's on peoples' minds. They want to separate themselves from any of those contact points. I've heard people say ' If I'm the only man in the room, I'm walking out."

And, it's feared #MeToo may have led to even more closed doors, further disconnecting women from the previously all-male networks they've worked to hard to integrate. of fewer opportunities for women, 

"I think people are reacting very rigidly, as 'I really have to build a fence around this. I really have to take more precautions than I ever thought I could." 

The LeanIn.org  poll found nearly half of male managers are uncomfortable participating in common work activities with a woman, and senior-level men are 3½ times more hesitant to have a work dinner with a junior-level woman - and five times more hesitant to travel with one for work - than with a junior-level man.

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