It wasn’t the answer I expected to hear when I recently asked Wendy MacIntyre, owner of resolveHR, about the #MeToo movement and how local businesses have changed.
I expected to hear something about a new human resources policies or workplace education campaigns.
I assume those things are probably happening.
But I didn’t expect to hear that some businesses and male managers are nervous.
It took a few moments to sink in.
And then I realized it makes perfect sense. I think a lot of people can relate. Things have changed.
Like many, I’m wondering what happens next.
My colleague, James Risdon, flushed out how nervous managers are feeling in an article this week. He cites a survey released this year from an international women’s organization in the U.S. (Lean In) that shows almost half of male managers are uncomfortable mentoring, working alone or socializing with women in the workplace in a post #MeToo world.
I think the best way to interpret these results is that some men are in self-preservation mode. Perhaps they realize they’re only one complaint away from losing their job.
So, what might we see change? MacIntyre believes one consequence could be the end of alcohol staff functions, like Christmas parties. It’s not as fun without them, but probably a good idea nonetheless.
I tend to agree with this. I go to fewer after work social and networking functions than before. And, the ones I go to, I’m not there as long. Am I nervous? That’s probably not the best way to put it. But I am more aware that things have changed.
Another unfortunate possible outcome that has been mentioned is fewer women being promoted in the workplace. The case has always been that a business will hire the best person for the job, male or female, especially given the fine line between a business’ success or failure. Gender equity and having more women in leadership roles are good for businesses.
So, I hope the movement doesn’t have a backlash of seeing fewer women promoted or involved with mentorship opportunities. But then again, I also wonder about the manager in self-preservation mode, and whether he would promote, hire or mentor someone that he believes, rightly or wrongly, could get him fired, even if it’s a remote possibility.
So, lots of questions and not many answers.
As far as businesses and managers being nervous, let’s remember the point of all this is to change the culture where women employees are treated equally and are not being bullied or harassed in the workplace. The new normal should be a workplace culture that protects women and allows them to succeed. And if that makes people feel a nervous and think twice about how they act, then that’s a good thing.