New York: 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.
In Silicon Valley, some male investors have declined one-on-one meetings with women, or rescheduled them from restaurants to conference rooms. On Wall Street, certain senior men have tried to avoid closed-door meetings with junior women. And in TV news, some male executives have scrupulously minded their words in conversations with female talent.
No more dinners with female colleagues. Don’t sit next to them on flights. Book hotel rooms on different floors. Avoid one-on-one meetings.
In fact, as a wealth adviser put it, just hiring a woman these days is “an unknown risk.” What if she took something he said the wrong way?
Across Wall Street, men are adopting controversial strategies for the #MeToo era and, in the process, making life even harder for women.
This is hardly a single-industry phenomenon, as men across the country check their behaviour at work, to protect themselves in the face of what they consider unreasonable political correctness — or to simply do the right thing.
The upshot is forceful on Wall Street, where women are scarce in the upper ranks. The industry has also long nurtured a culture that keeps harassment complaints out of the courts and public eye and has so far avoided a mega-scandal like the one that has engulfed Harvey Weinstein.
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.
While the new personal codes for dealing with #MeToo have only just begun to ripple, the shift is already palpable. 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.
On Wall Street as elsewhere, reactions to #MeToo can smack of paranoia, particularly given the industry’s history of protecting its biggest revenue generators. The top jobs in finance are dominated by men.
In January, as #MeToo was gathering momentum, Biscardi did away with the late-night, open-bar gathering he’d hosted for years in his penthouse suite during Context Capital’s annual conference at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
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.
A worrying new trend is seeing women being asked to record “consent videos” before having sex with men who fear they will be accused of assault afterwards.
This dating trend involves one partner filming the other giving them verbal consent before they engage in a sexual act. This then allows the person who recorded the video to use it as “evidence” that their partner gave consent before having sex.
In other words, these worrying videos function as an insurance policy if someone is accused of assault or rape afterwards.