Source of article 2's Company - Magnus Insights.
Recently an article appeared on the front page of the Sunday New York Times entitled “When Job Puts Sexes Together, Workers Cringe.” Great title – it called out for the story to be read. But, Melissa, who read it first, and I found the story shocking in terms of the data it reported. The data were from a large survey of over 5000 registered voters. The study focused on whether it was appropriate or inappropriate for people of opposite genders (not married to each other) to be alone in certain situations and the answers were broken down by gender. In the “least offensive” category was “Having a work meeting” – but 25% of women and 22% of men said it was inappropriate for a woman and a man to be alone in a work meeting. The other scenarios were: “Driving in a car,” found to be inappropriate by 38% (women) and 29% (men); “Having lunch,” found to be inappropriate by 44% (women) and 36% (men); “Having dinner,” found to be inappropriate by 53% (women) and 45% (men); and “Having a drink,” found to be inappropriate by 60% (women) and 28% (men). “Wow!” is my reaction.’ As the article points out, it is clear that significant numbers of people find these, everyday, workplace behaviors to be inappropriate when engaged in by people of opposite genders who are not married to one another because they believe sex is implied by these settings. The shocking point is to think that these people can’t see how one can keep his/her pants on and interact professionally with the opposite gender. There is no doubt that sexual harassment is an issue – people at the highest echelon apparently don’t know what appropriate behavior is, but the sad part of this is, how can men and women function as equals in a world where these perceptions exist? I don’t know if all of the respondents to this survey were employed, or, for example, living in 1950s traditional relationships. But, for a woman to not interact, to not go to lunch, have drinks, etc., in a work environment is career limiting to say the least. And, as Melissa will likely point out, it is totally unrealistic. A career person must learn appropriate norms of behavior with opposite gender co-workers – that it might be inappropriate to ride together in a car, or any of these other things should not be an issue. Inappropriate behaviors in cars or bars is the issue, but not being able to be in these situations will create a glass wall, not ceiling, between otherwise equal co-workers. I suppose it is important to note that 1/3 to 2/3 of population segments feel this way, but it is also important to break the glass walls by breaking them down. Precautions make sense. Leaving a door open in a one on one meeting, regardless of the participants’ gender, may make sense. Meeting in glass walled conference rooms, avoiding the dark corners of a restaurant or bar, may reduce risks, but to avoid them completely introduces another layer of risk that can be difficult to overcome.