For every action there’s a reaction

A couple of weeks back, in the context of a professor who’d been reprimanded over a lame joke in a lift which upset a vinegar-drinking feminist, I said this:

If this keeps up, segregated workplaces will look like an increasingly attractive proposition. At the very least, sensible men will avoid certain women at all costs – and certain companies.

A few days ago, several readers alerted me to this article:

Call it the Pence Effect, after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who has said he avoids dining alone with any woman other than his wife. In finance, the overarching impact can be, in essence, gender segregation.

Well, yes. As I’ve mentioned before, the logical solution to the alleged problem that women are routinely sexually harassed at work by men is segregation of the sexes. And if men are placed in a situation whereby they can have their livelihoods ruined by a mere allegation from a woman, this segregation will be self-imposed.

Now, more than a year into the #MeToo movement — with its devastating revelations of harassment and abuse in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and beyond — Wall Street risks becoming more of a boy’s club, rather than less of one.

So women demanded to work alongside men, then complained about how men behaved around them, and are now complaining men are avoiding them. I’m beginning to think there’s a grain of truth in some of those stereotypes.

“Women are grasping for ideas on how to deal with it, because it is affecting our careers,” said Karen Elinski, president of the Financial Women’s Association and a senior vice president at Wells Fargo & Co. “It’s a real loss.”

Having allowed the issue of women in the workplace to be hijacked by lunatic feminists bent on poisoning relations between the sexes, ordinary women are now finding their careers are suffering. Maybe they should have policed their own ranks a little better?

There’s a danger, too, for companies that fail to squash the isolating backlash and don’t take steps to have top managers be open about the issue and make it safe for everyone to discuss it, said Stephen Zweig, an employment attorney with FordHarrison.

“If men avoid working or traveling with women alone, or stop mentoring women for fear of being accused of sexual harassment,” he said, “those men are going to back out of a sexual harassment complaint and right into a sex discrimination complaint.”

For the SJWs pushing this insanity, this is a feature not a bug. Their aim is to hold arbitrary power over men such that, no matter what they do or don’t do, their lives can be destroyed.

For obvious reasons, few will talk openly about the issue. Privately, though, many of the men interviewed acknowledged they’re channeling Pence, saying how uneasy they are about being alone with female colleagues, particularly youthful or attractive ones, fearful of the rumor mill or of, as one put it, the potential liability.

Men aren’t stupid, and they will create strategies which enable them to politely go through the motions with female colleagues just enough to avoid a discrimination suit, but otherwise keep their distance. Men are very good at doing this with men they don’t like, so it won’t be too hard to do it with women. For example:

A manager in infrastructure investing said he won’t meet with female employees in rooms without windows anymore; he also keeps his distance in elevators. A late-40-something in private equity said he has a new rule, established on the advice of his wife, an attorney: no business dinner with a woman 35 or younger.

The changes can be subtle but insidious, with a woman, say, excluded from casual after-work drinks, leaving male colleagues to bond, or having what should be a private meeting with a boss with the door left wide open.

There are as many or more men who are responding in quite different ways. One, an investment adviser who manages about 100 employees, said he briefly reconsidered having one-on-one meetings with junior women. He thought about leaving his office door open, or inviting a third person into the room.

This amused, however:

Finally, he landed on the solution: “Just try not to be an asshole.”

That’s pretty much the bottom line, said Ron Biscardi, chief executive officer of Context Capital Partners. “It’s really not that hard.”

Oh, you think being nice is going to protect you? Sure, not being an asshole will stand you in good stead with 99% of female employees, but as the article says:

“Some men have voiced concerns to me that a false accusation is what they fear,” said Zweig, the lawyer. “These men fear what they cannot control.”

So they’ll take back control. Instead of having formal events the men will just meet for drinks independently, inviting a few like-minded chaps from other firms around to dispel any charge they’re at a works function.

In this charged environment, the question is how the response to #MeToo might actually end up hurting women’s progress. Given the male dominance in Wall Street’s top jobs, one of the most pressing consequences for women is the loss of male mentors who can help them climb the ladder.

Oh dear. It turns out a movement accusing men of sexual harassment en masse has some drawbacks. Who would have thought?

“Advancement typically requires that someone at a senior level knows your work, gives you opportunities and is willing to champion you within the firm. It’s hard for a relationship like that to develop if the senior person is unwilling to spend one-on-one time with a more junior person.”

I brought this up in my latest podcast. In practice, career progression is made by one-on-one brown-nosing, which is often harder for women to do than men for precisely the reason it may be misconstrued. The answer is to stop using this as a method of personal advancement.

Men have to step up, she said, and “not let fear be a barrier.”

That ship sailed so long ago it’s circumnavigated the globe and is nudging us in the back. Over to you, ladies.

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32 thoughts on “For every action there’s a reaction

  1. Agree with the broad problem of spurious ‘victimhood’ and the inevitable blowback, I think any man of average intelligence or above can probably navigate the safe path between false claims of discrimination and harassment (well providing they’re not a groper or a boorish twat in which case I have no sympathy). However, it’s difficult to get rid of brown nosing as the route for advancement, if that’s what people with the power to offer patronage expect (even if subconsciously). I’ve known plenty of execs who claim to dislike toadies and people ‘managing up’ to them, and how they want people to ‘speak the truth’, but when it comes down to brass tacks they surround themselves with loyal arse lickers who ‘manage up’ to them, and chances are they did the same things to their patrons on the way up.

    Every organization I’ve worked for has had a share of senior managers or execs who are actually pretty mediocre when it comes to intrinsic skills and tacit knowledge, and whose ‘leadership’ qualities underwhelm, but they have been fantastically successful at ingratiating themselves into the clique of power (helps if you have right background or belong to right networks). Spending actual time in a real business quickly makes a mockery of claims about how talent and hard work are key to the top, they’re good things no doubt, but they won’t get you to the top of an established hierarchy without patronage. On the flipside I’ve seen execs have their careers derailed when their patrons have fallen from grace, the benefits of historic arse licking not being so transferable. Still shop soiled former superstar execs are usually well compensated for failure, so no need for tiny violins.

  2. I blame Columbus. If only he’d had a woman on board! They’d have conquered Hispaniola by now.

  3. I had an investigation once where the (largely female) rumour mill was complaining that a female on the exec-track was having an affair with the exec assigned, within the formal company scheme, to mentor her. This got to the 2-up level and they called me in – either to clear them or, if true, the mentoring relationship would be re-assigned (surprisingly and thankfully, no suggestion that these weren’t competent adults who are capable of making their own decisions about who to sleep with.)

    As it turned out, what was happening was that when they were planned to be in roughly the same area, they booked in to the same hotel to do the mentoring bit (days pre ubiquitous Skype). So overt and severe privacy invasion occurred – findings separate rooms (occasionally even close-by hotels, especially in London), no evidence of malpractice (duly noted that the absence of evidence not being the evidence of absence). Report presented, 2-up happy, rumour mill told to mind their own business.

    Now, I don’t care if one or other of them did wander to not-their-own-room later in the evening. None of my business – they weren’t in a line management or a separation of duties relationship.

    Don’t think that would work nowadays.

  4. The balls on these feminists, shitting on men non-stop for decades and then demanding men “mentor” them.

    And doesn’t this need for male mentors belie the claim that women can achieve things on their own?

    The answer is to stop using this as a method of personal advancement.

    So a fundamental rejigging of human nature, then?

  5. The problem with large companies is that eventually the place gets overrun by political parasites. Political types thrive in these places. They can’t do something useful but they can play games. And there’s plenty of fat they can consume before anyone notices. Ultimately this cripples the organisation. Non-confirnist talent leaves and you’re stuck with an army of bureaucrats.

    I’ve read a few things about Google’s current culture and the result will be that a lot of skilled men won’t go and work there. They’ll get a job at a smaller start up. Combining male software engineers with ultrawoke policies is suicide. These are often people who often don’t know how to behave, or will say the unsayable. Quite literally I’ve worked with people that we kept away from business users

  6. So a fundamental rejigging of human nature, then?

    An awful lot of business management requires going against human nature. A good half the problems I’ve seen with managers has been a failure to understand they are there to achieve specific, defined goals and not to do whatever they feel most comfortable doing.

  7. However, it’s difficult to get rid of brown nosing as the route for advancement, if that’s what people with the power to offer patronage expect (even if subconsciously).

    Indeed, it’s hardwired into humans. This is why business management is difficult, because it requires people to go against their natural instincts.

    Spending actual time in a real business quickly makes a mockery of claims about how talent and hard work are key to the top, they’re good things no doubt, but they won’t get you to the top of an established hierarchy without patronage.

    Oh yes.

  8. Step 1: Make men terrified to be alone with female colleagues.
    Step 2: Complain that men feel decline to be alone with female colleagues.
    Step 3: Profit.

    Or something.

  9. In the workplace at least it’s becoming apparent that women have all the rights, men have all the responsibilities.

    There is feminism of course, the herd of elephants in the room, but I’m starting to think that maybe Schopenhauer had a point.

  10. Im a retired Fitter Welder who worked in the oil industry for several decades, Anyway i was volunteered by my boss for the safety reps job, that entailed attending monthly meetings at the company HQ. The safety department was run mainly by women, on attending one meeting a very attractive thirty year old woman said ” youv,e grown a beard you look all windswept and interesting” on another occasion she said ” many a good tune played on an old fiddle”… I remarked “behave yourself i,m old enough to be your father”
    imagine if i had spoken to her like that.. being a man i couldnt care less what she said i was more interested in ogling her breasts and arse!

  11. imagine if i had spoken to her like that.

    I once worked for a multinational engineering consultancy where we had to have the regular harassment training sessions. One of the power skirts would ensure people were paying attention by asking a question about the material and then throwing a sponge ball into the audience; whoever caught it had to answer the question. One middle manager was distracted and bobbled the catch; her response was to laugh and say “you catch like a girl”.

    The look on the faces of the rest of the employees was priceless.

    This is why business management is difficult, because it requires people to go against their natural instincts.

    You’re not going to change human nature. Period. It’s futile to try. The reason why small, agile companies can outperform large unwieldy bureaucracies despite economies of scale is that neolithic homo sapiens sapiens tribes max out at about one hundred people before splitting, because that’s the number of names, faces and relationships a human being can remember. In a larger group than that, you stop seeing everyone in the group as “your tribe” and start psychologically dividing the group into “your tribe” and “other tribes”, and tribes compete for resources.

    Companies smaller than a hundred people can keep people focused on competing with other companies. Companies much larger than a hundred people waste a lot of energy on internal competition as internal groups compete with other internal groups for resources (like budget, head count, office space, etc.)

    This has always been the case, and its why large companies that structure themselves as a loose federation of independent business units that interact with each other but don’t directly compete outperform large monolithic corporate bureaucracies.

  12. “One of the power skirts would ensure people were paying attention by asking a question about the material and then throwing a sponge ball into the audience; whoever caught it had to answer the question.”
    Jeez! You really put up with sh1t like that? The appropriate response is to walk out. Whether one treats the slag with a selection of four-letter words en passant is optional. Any company treats employees like 7 year olds isn’t worth working for. FFS grow a pair.

  13. FFS grow a pair

    Don’t be a twat. There’s context; the reason for the constant training sessions was that the senior partners treated the secretarial pool as their own personal bunny ranch, with the result that at any given moment there were multiple sexual harassment suits outstanding against the company (the HR Director was a lawyer). In order to avoid a charge of “fostering a culture of harassment”, it was imperative that management show that everyone else but the offending partner was On Board with the Wokeness. Any dissension from the propaganda was punishable by termination and blacklisting.

    It was a hideously dysfunctional company run by thick-necked dudebros. It was eventually acquired for a song by an even larger conglomerate.

  14. Then pre-empt, FO & do something else.
    For my four-penneth worth, what I see is the wholesale colonisation of business by the university educated. Turned it into another enclave of arrested development, like the military. Fuck knows how these people would cope in a world where the only purpose of being there is to get shit done & the only metric, shit got done. Which is where the people actually create most of the wealth is enjoyed live.

  15. You’re not going to change human nature. Period. It’s futile to try.

    Eh? So we should employ the pretty girl instead of the competent one, and not fire the bloke who is useless but is a great laugh down the pub?

  16. @Daniel, bis

    I agree with both your sentiments at once!

    The problem with growing a pair when you discover your employer is going to treat you like 4-year-olds, is that if you’re out the door to another company odds are hot you’re just going to find the same elsewhere… and when I think about it, I can see why it’s being done. Just doesn’t mean I’d enjoy it or tolerate it any better.

    Part of the reason I work for myself. I might go back to employment at some point in the future, but my crap-taking patience has withered since my last job so that’s an aspect I’m not looking forward to.

    Sadly not everyone’s in a position where chucking it in, buggering off and doing their own thing is a viable, or at least sensible, option.

  17. “Fuck knows how these people would cope in a world where the only purpose of being there is to get shit done & the only metric, shit got done. Which is where the people actually create most of the wealth is enjoyed live.”

    One of the most pernicious trends in post war Britain has been the inexorable rise of organisations where there are two realities – the paperwork virtual one and the one thats happening in the real world, and it matters little whats occurring in the latter as long as the former all tallies up. It started in the State sector and now has reached the large corporate sector, and the Third Sector too. The only bits left that actually go to work and achieve stuff with any amount of speed and efficiency are the small to medium sized businesses and the sole traders. Everyone else is fucking around with bits of paper and policy statements.

  18. So we should employ the pretty girl instead of the competent one

    Do you take pretty girls – girls at all – on a mammoth hunt?

    and not fire the bloke who is useless but is a great laugh down the pub?

    Are you running a pub?

    Like it or not, human beings are sexually-dimorphic, hierarchical social primates. You can bend and redirect this basic psychological truth to productive ends, but you can’t get anywhere if you reject it.

  19. Are you running a pub?

    Maybe things are different in Canada, but being a good laugh down the pub has probably secured more employment in the UK than state education.

  20. “shit done & the only metric, shit got done”

    Yep and if the shareholders aren’t getting increased value and the clients the work done, it just aint got long to go, metrics are like that.

    “speed and efficiency are the small to medium sized businesses”

    I am in a rapidly growing was small, now mid-sized international construction contractor these days and we got none of the PC bullshit that is mentioned on here that many posters experience. Prior to this firm I was with the biggest contractor in Aussie and they didn’t have it either, seven years ago, nor any of the ones before that. It’s one of my jobs to make sure that it wont start in here either, thank fuck. We dont have the budget for it anyhow.

    “It was eventually acquired for a song”

    We just bought a Canadian company for a relatively low price, they had no work on during the negotiations and pre-purchase, which we played on. We have since been awarded a contract (smallish) and are pretty close with another one. I recruited a bloke down here in Aussie that I knew from a clients team, a strapping big Yorkshire lad to be the GM Canada, he has settled in well and tells me that there is oodles of opportunity up for grabs. And once we are up to speed he will go south of the border and clean up there as well.

    The previous shareholders must be spewing.

  21. he has settled in well and tells me that there is oodles of opportunity up for grabs.

    Aren’t you in the oil and gas industry?

    Hang on, I need to get more popcorn.

  22. “Aren’t you in the oil and gas industry?”

    Nope, not sure what gave you that impression, I have worked extensively in oil and gas in past lifes though.

    We are in the civil infrastructure sector although we do supply specialist services to a particular segment of the oil and gas industry but that would be a very small percentage of total revenue, today it would be about 1% (small contract in the Coal Seam Gas fields in Queensland), based on our track record if we got a big contract in that sector it could rise to as much as 10% of total revenue for the duration of that project. Currently we have tenders awaiting award in the oil and gas sector in Africa, Singapore and yes Canada but we are not reliant on steady revenue streams from that sector.

  23. I confirm that tonnes of recruiting is done in a pub.
    It is so prevalent that some trades businesses are tired of having their men poached in the pub, and actually arrange a huge after-work drinks knees-up in their shed to keep their men out of the pub on the nights of the week (say it is Tuesday) when the recruiters are out in force.

    Being good company doesn’t hurt with attracting recruiters, but from what I’ve seen just being vertical and breathing is enough for a recruiter to home in.

    I throw people out of the pub if they offer my staff a job.
    I need staff more than I need any one particular customer.

  24. It’s always been a fact that it’s who you know, not what you do that matters. I realised that many moons ago when I was suddenly recognised as one of the guys after an altercation in a bar where I went to bat for a colleague being assaulted. The MD of this big American bank knew about it not 2 hours after (the amount of time between the fracas and showing up to work). I’d been there a few months doing a decent job… It does explain why, over the years, I’ve seen many bond traders who were always losing money, bounce back to a better job multiple times.

    I run a small business nowadays, in Essex, the PC culture hasn’t reached down this level of business yet, thank God, and there are no hiding places with metrics.

    Funnily enough, it would be the girls that would be on the receiving end of PC’s interdictions more than the guys.

  25. Re false accusations.

    Did you see the recent Dilbert strip, where the new female bully is introduced?

    That’s why I’m sure many men are nervous.

    As you said 99% of women are fine, it’s just the crazies, or the unpromoted (who think they are better than they actually are and get resentful over this).

    And we’ve all worked with women in this latter category.

  26. “As you said 99% of women are fine, it’s just the crazies, or the unpromoted (who think they are better than they actually are and get resentful over this).”

    I have this theory that a significant proportion of the female population have mental health issues that are serious enough that they should result in at the very least some medication, maybe even sectioning at some point. But because of the generalised more lenient attitude of society towards odd and errant behaviour by women, they fly under the radar for most if not all their lives.

    When a man starts acting irrationally in public, eventually someone fears for their safety and the police get called, who (in the UK at least) will bring in mental health professionals to appraise prisoners if they suspect some sort of mental issues. Regardless of what happens to them in the criminal system that man then has a mental health diagnosis on his health records which will always be there from then on. So the system tends to spot mentally ill men.

    Whereas a woman acting irrationally in public is more likely to be excused her behaviour as people don’t feel so unsafe around women, so the police are less likely to be called. And family members or spouses are more likely to be contacted who will then smooth over the problems and deal with things themselves. And so such women may never come to the attention of the mental health system at all. I know of one woman who was finally diagnosed as bipolar in her 50s, despite her behaviour being clean off all her life (I know of her via her sister and some of the stories about her behaviour are bizarre in the extreme – lying on the floor screaming when she didn’t get her way as an adult woman for example). I guess her family and then husband have always managed to pick up the pieces when she kicked off, and no professional help was ever sought or forced upon her.

    Another good female friend has quite severe bipolar disorder and again she has managed to get to her 60s without ever being formally diagnosed – a combination of her parents bailing her out when things kicked off when she was young, and husbands picking up the pieces after her throughout most of her adult life. Its only been since she got divorced that she’s ended up with some medical attention and medication. No man to smooth things over you see…….

    In fact I think its men that are the common factor here – fathers, brothers and husbands are the ones who work hardest to keep the mentally unstable women in their lives out of trouble with the authorities. But no one does the same for men, they’re considered capable of looking after themselves, or taking the consequences if they can’t.

  27. Hmm, now I’m thinking there will be …
    more paperwork!
    New rules about reporting “sexual harassment / insensitivity”:

    We at X comp. do not tolerate sexual harassment. Our program is as follows:
    1) If you have been harassed, you have a responsibility to file an incident report within 3 working days; this includes any and all feelings of discomfort. This report goes to HR first (not your manager).
    2) A HR rep will schedule a recorded incident interview with you to discuss the specifics, get the context, and to gather facts.
    3) In the incident interview, the severity will be agreed upon:
    a) criminal harassment; b) significant, not technically illegal but outside the boundaries of the company’s code of conduct; c) questionable, within the code of conduct but distasteful or uncomfortable to the employee; d) likely merely a misunderstanding.

    Once the victims are required to submit forms (to HR), all employees can be required to affirm, every week, that they have not been subject to any harassment.

    Real victims will still be able to report harassment — altho they won’t be able to wait more than week to do so. The questionable harassment will need to be reported, too; or else sort of become too late.

    The false harassment will be hugely reduced by requiring it to be done within a week; each week a “no harassment has occurred” statement would be signed and stored for each employee.

    How to avoid sex discrimination? Probably there will be more deliberate hiring of 35+ married with kids women, likely not on the “fast track” to the top, yet enough to avoid the sex discrimination suits while also reducing the harassment.

    I’m also wondering if “external escort services” will become a greater and more used benefit, possibly being called “massage”…

  28. RE: womens’ mental health. There was a blogger that had a look at the statistics after wondering about how many “bitches be crazy”. (It was either Rollo at TRM or Chateau Heartiste that linked to him). He found that in the US about 16% of men and 25% of women are, as he put it, DSM IV certifiably crazy officially.

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