Women Entrepreneurs around the world face major challenges but many are inspiring us to shape the future of global business. They show the value of extending a helping hand to others. They support fellow women to rise together rather than looking at them as rivals. They are instrumental in building positivity and in establishing the Golden Era of Women Entrepreneurship.
The “ho hum,” been there/done that remedies for stopping sexual harassment have been sitting in seldom-read policy manuals and preached about in awareness workshops for decades. And yet harassment still raises its ugly head in organizations large and small, public and private. There’s no better validation than the recent “me too” movement and outed perpetrators who have seen their personal lives and careers go up in smoke.
So, what effective personal strategies should potential targets of harassment consider? How do they ward it off in the first place, or respond to it in the moment?
Let’s face it men: more of us need to “man-up” by proactively helping to end the scourge of sexual harassment. We must collectively stop being the main cause of the problem and start being part of the solution.
This means standing up and speaking out to support women. This also means swiftly shaming and punishing male perpetrators for their despicable deeds.
“Oh, oh…traveling alone on business…with her!”
Another day, another sexual harassment complaint against a high profile man. Will all this result in a chilling effect on the organization in which some men in power will be reluctant to hire or promote women? Will women and men – men in particular – find themselves now reluctant to travel on business with women? With these questions in mind, I decided to repost an article I wrote a while back about questions from one of my listening tours:
“Terry, tell me what concerns many men the most when traveling alone with a single woman on company business. How do men of Muslim or Pakistani or Saudi backgrounds deal with this issue from a cultural or religious perspective? What advice would you offer women and men who may have concerns about this?”
I puzzled over her questions then decided to seek answers from a cross section of people in my global network, male and female.
Here’s what they shared:
“Terry, my only concern is that when I travel alone with a woman, which I do often, do I sometimes come across as patronizing or over-protective of her, particularly in some parts of the world where women may be viewed as less equal, or in some cases where safety may be an issue?”
“I recall a situation where I traveled overseas with a male colleague. We were both married. I heard from others that he would avoid having lunch with just a female colleague on a work day, so I knew he would be sensitive about the issue. We both took extra care to avoid any situation that may be misconstrued or misinterpreted by ourselves or by others. I can be a touchy feely person sometimes with friends, but I made sure to keep an extra distance between us to avoid making us both uncomfortable. I believe he did as well. It was a successful trip despite his initial discomfort with traveling with a woman. I think awareness of the issue comes first and taking steps to put the other person at ease is next.”
“With my Pakistani background, I totally understand the dilemma Muslim men might face and do agree that there are measures you can take that will ensure that the integrity of your relationship is maintained. Many Muslim men and women do not shake hands with the opposite sex. I do not hold this too strongly. I respect women who choose not to shake hands with me.”
“Traveling with a woman depends on whether you are a single man and not in a committed relationship. It also depends on the other person and how secure they are. I know we are talking about business, but I have yet to see someone totally separate the business and social when traveling together. We are relational and emotional beings by nature, but experience and maturity helps us manage both. In case some didn’t know, men are just as emotional as women. We were trained from an early age to manage and manifest our emotions differently. Nothing wrong with that.
At some point during the trip the conversation won’t be all just about business. However, most men are not equipped to handle conversations that venture beyond “How about them Cowboys”. Let’s be real. We men like sometimes sharing a cab, breakfast, lunch and dinner with someone. I can say the same for some women as well. Men are stimulated by what we see, touch, feel, taste, etc. That is why most of us like sports and other interactive activities.
I will also share that most men and women in a secure relationship are not as bothered by traveling with a single person of the opposite sex. The relationship you have with the person before the trip can make a difference in comfort level as well. The more you know about each other helps create a more plutonic relationship.
Lastly, from a religious perspective, as in a Christian perspective, men and women are advised to avoid the appearance of mis-conduct. Unfortunately, we live in a time when chaste behavior in not the norm, thus, for most people of faith, your putting yourself in a position that appears to be compromising is a big deal. Many on-lookers assume the worst before the best. “
“A lot of this depends on corporate culture and effectively navigating situations given your own boundaries as well as the expected norms of the corporate culture. For example, at my company we tend to be a very touchy feely culture and hug a lot. If the culture is more congenial, it helps to be absolutely clear on what your boundaries are because women and men are programmed differently.
“One thing not addressed is the “fear of” factors. Today I do believe women are more willing to stand up to an inappropriate comment, gesture or innuendo; however, there may be times in a person’s career (man or women) where they feel pressured from a career standpoint to “go along.” If you don’t feel strong enough to say something we head down the pathway with warning signs. I believe it’s possible that men and women can, with the best of intentions, end up here out of one of two emotions – fear for their career progression or desire to achieve in their career.
As a long time HR practitioner, I’ve seen both. The other issue, especially for men, is the litigious fear factor – fear of something they say or do being misinterpreted or misrepresented in a complaint about their behavior, or of being sued and having their name and reputation destroyed. Most of this comes down to not knowing how to have open and real conversations at work. I am a subscriber to “when in doubt, don’t” as it relates to subjects like these.”
Some tips for consideration:
- Get to know the person you will travel with prior to the trip.
- If you are married or have a relationship with another, make sure you tell them who you are traveling with and keep them in the loop during the trip.
- If you are uncomfortable or have some religious tenants that forbid traveling with someone of the opposite sex, make separate arrangements and let the other person know when you can meet to discuss the business of the trip.
- Avoid private meals together in your room or in dimly lit restaurants.
- If you get uncomfortable with the conversation, talk about how much your wife or girlfriend would love to be there with you sharing the sights, or tell them a pleasant story about your relationship.
- If you really feel uncomfortable, check out alternatives for traveling with another person.
Despite his material and enviable career success, Don, like many of his mid-20th-century contemporaries and many men today, more than a half a century later, was hampered by a common theme that is prevalent in the lives of many men — a lack of genuine friendships. The old saying that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” rings true in regards to this particular issue.
Men have chosen to become totally consumed with one’s career to the detriment of having any healthy relationships. There have been a number of theories and reasons from experts as to why so many men have difficulty establishing and maintaining valuable, close relationships with other men. The social awkwardness and a rejection of intimacy with other men are present in fear of being viewed or labeled as gay. Societal mores have historically frowned upon it. Instead, men have chosen to become totally consumed with one’s career to the detriment of having any healthy relationships. Reasons aside, many individuals with the X/Y chromosome have a real deficit in their level of camaraderie with other men.
The undeniable conclusion from many psychologists, psychotherapists, mental health experts as well as testimony from a number of men themselves is that too many men have too few, if any, real male friends.
There has been a plethora of studies providing evidence that men who are largely friendless are living in an unhealthy situation, often resort to alcohol, engage in drug use, suffer from depression, and should reexamine their current predicament. Some things to consider:
Continue reading Addressing Social Isolation among Men – by Elwood Watson
Ms. Gerber is Editor and Director of Content at Chattanooga’s daily newspaper, The Times Free Press. She manages a newsroom of 75 people who produce a daily newspaper, three magazines, and five weekly community newspapers. Alison serves on the boards of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government and the Associated Press Media Editors.
The newspaper recently launched an initiative proposed by the Mayor’s Council for Women in partnership with Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute (CWLI) where prominent women in the community contribute articles to the business section. The Times Free Press has been recognized with awards including the Tennessee Press Association’s top honor for the past three years. The paper was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in three of the last five years.
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Many years ago I authored an article entitled “Gender Quake” and it was all about the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings – the first time sexual harassment and gender equity issues entered our living rooms (through TV) and never left. Before these hearings – these issues did not garner attention or coverage, they did not make the newspaper or even local news – not even a blip or a mention. The current political climate and our President is a major contributing factor – a backdrop for this conversation. Now, national, international news and hours of coverage (educating public) on the nightly news and cable is the norm, our new normal.
The American Diversity Report sat down with Terry Howard, Senior Associate at Diversity Wealth. The subject? Sexual harassment and the recent emergence of the issue in the media. We wanted to hear his thoughts on why this has emerged from the shadows and, most important, what the organization should do to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, what effective training programs look like and follow-up actions are critical.
ADR: Once again, sexual harassment has muscled its way back into the headlines thanks in part to the high profile exit of Bill O’Reilly from Fox News. Any initial thoughts?
Sheila C. Boyington
President, Thinking Media-Learning Blade; National States Chair, Million Women Mentors
Sheila is a successful serial entrepreneur leading the creation of several products. Her company, Thinking Media is the creator of ACT’s KeyTrain® system for WorkKeys® and career readiness (acquired by ACT in 2011), PictureRx® for health literacy, and CharacterEd.Net® for K-12 character education. She is well-known for her passion, strong management, and leadership skills and has been credited for gaining high adoption of the Thinking Media tools including over 30 statewide contracts. Sheila has won numerous awards for her Entrepreneurship and Leadership and as a Professional Engineer.
Priya C. Boyington
Marketing Manager, Stitch Fix
Priya is an e-commerce marketer, passionate about the intersection of retail and technology. She currently resides in San Francisco and is a marketing manager for Stitch Fix’s newly launched men’s business and has previous experience at GoldieBlox, Bain & Company, and Fortune 500 companies. A graduate of Girls Preparatory School (GPS) in Chattanooga, she holds a BS in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from The Wharton School.
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