By Harrison Kelly
In light of recent sexual assault allegations against many prominent male businessmen like Harvey Weinstein, women are more frequently speaking up against gendered injustice. While men continue to make up the majority of employees in leadership roles in industries like finance and technology, women are making big leaps to change the system that has left them disadvantaged.
Evidence suggests that collaboration between diverse groups of people leads to prosperity and long term success, but men continue to disproportionately benefit from the outdated assumption that women aren’t as fit to serve leadership roles. For generations, men in top positions have been able to assault and harass women without facing repercussions.
Diversity in the workplace is undoubtedly beneficial for all. Author Warren Berger made a great point about diversity in his book, “A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas.”
“As you look for potential collaborators, aim for people with different backgrounds, cultural experiences, and skill sets that differ from your own: diversity fuels creativity,” Berger wrote.
Despite research supporting the importance of this concept, most company cultures do not promote an atmosphere for workplace diversity. In Silicon Valley, men still make up a disproportionate percentage of hierarchical roles. According to a New Yorker article, “women make up only a quarter of employees and 11 percent of executives in the [tech] industry.”
By making it difficult for women to move up the corporate ladder, men are putting themselves at a disadvantage. Many women are just as qualified, yet they are not often given chances for promotion, equal pay or the chance to offer serious contributions. The few women who find themselves in positions of power are still not given the same treatment. In a recent survey of 200 senior-level women in Silicon Valley, 66 percent said that they were not included in important company events because of their gender. This type of discrimination is all too frequent, and needs to change.
Kathryn Minshew, the founder of website The Muse, put it well when she said, “For so many years, it felt like talking about (gender discrimination in the workplace) was the kiss of death in your career. This summer was the first time I’ve ever seen consequences for bad behavior. And that is empowering.”
At tech companies, such as Uber and Tesla, women have begun to speak out on such misconduct. Uber’s former CEO Travis Kalanick, a Tesla and SpaceX board member named Steve Jurvetson and the former President of The New Republic, Hamilton Fish, are examples of powerful men being let go for their mistreatment of women. Skeptics are starting to see the repercussions of mistreating women and not giving them equal prospects of moving up the corporate ladder.
Hopefully, those against equal opportunity in the workplace will see that in giving women the right to be truly equal, it can lead to a better society for industry and society as a whole. Although there has been recent progress, there is still a lot more to be done. In 2018, I hope we see a serious shift in the attitudes of corporate culture.
“There shouldn't be a mandate, but companies should acknowledge inequality in the workplace.”