Ladies, you and I know both know that at the the end of the day, it’s not about sex, sex is but one manifestation of the rot. Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, a SVP at Uber, your creepy uncle, are just another version of someone we all know, are afraid to talk about, and hate — our bad boss!
Rebecca Traister rightly calls out the fact that this moment is about more than just workplace sexual misconduct, it’s about all of work. But unlike Rebecca, I’d take it a step further and say that while gender plays a huge role, bad bosses are not any one gender’s problem and that this moment isn’t just about what men do to women. The reason women refrain from reporting sexual misconduct, especially in the workplace, is because we refrain from reporting just about any misconduct*. Even when we have female bosses. We feel resigned to play the role of a victim or a bystander. In jobs, with bosses that slowly strip us of our dignity, make us question our core beliefs, and leave us feeling paralyzed. I know that this very moment you’re taking stock of the ways in which you’re been put down, let down, and unvalued by a boss. Given the national stats, there’s a good chance you woke up this morning unhappy about your work.
We don’t create long queues outside the HR department. Because when our livelihoods are threatened, we make concessions. At a time when the average one bedroom is Seattle rents for nearly $2000/month, 50% of the population still makes less than $50,000 a year. $1200 is often the difference between housing and homelessness. And the last three years of rising homelessness in Seattle would give anyone a pause.
The other harder truth, is that violence and harassment is so pervasive in the lives of women, in particular women of color, that by the time we are coming into the workforce — we have all but normalized or written off these “discomforts”. We have learnt the hard way that price of asking for humanity, accountability, equity, is more expensive than we can bear. So we whisper into the ears of our friends and allies, we meet girlfriends for drinks and we cry in places where people can’t see us…again and again and again. The price of being the person that speaks up ranges from termination to isolation* and everything in between.
Speaking up is seen as lashing out.
In the face of workplace misconduct so egregious, so pervasive, so frequent, we have to come together and make the world work for all women. All the HBR articles on dealing with a bad boss, toxic handlers, work place culture, loss in productivity or the negative economic repercussions of poor managers is not going to move the needle. After all, equal pay is a mandate and yet the wage gap persists.
Somewhere in this world, there is another #metoo moment waiting to happen. We need it because the law can’t and doesn’t do enough. We need it for all women, and women of color who continue to be treated poorly when they ask for accountability. And it can’t come soon enough.
Note:*Workplace harassment is a significant contributor to the gender wage gap. Economic security and positive workplaces are closely linked. Learn more and join the Equal Pay Today campaign.