There are some deeply serious problems with this Bloomberg piece on how Wall Street men are starting to ice out women bc of #MeToo. The magazine needs to rip it up and start over. https://t.co/ShoynriwNV
Come with me dear readers, as we take a look:
The nut of the story—its overall frame—is: “Men are adopting controversial strategies for the #MeToo era”
But that’s not the correct frame. The strategies are not “controversial.” They are *illegal*.
In other words, the nut should read: “In the wake of #MeToo, men on Wall Street are increasingly afraid of false accusations that could derail their careers. As a result, some are adopting personal practices that illegally discriminate against their female colleagues.”
When you interact in one way with a set of colleagues based on their demographic characteristics, and those practices have material impact on the work that’s being done and on who gets access to opportunities, that’s discrimination.
Avoiding dinners with young women bc they’re women, but you still dine with young male colleagues? That’s discrimination. Not mentoring women bc they’re women, but you still mentor men? That’s discrimination.
Frames are imp bc they set narratives. The larger narrative set by this piece is t/ men “own” Wall St, & women are “newcomers.” Since wider cultural forces hv md interacting w the “newcomers” problematic, the “owners” are retrenching, w implications for the newcomers' careers
But that narrative is actually not correct. From the perspective of the law, men don’t “own” Wall Street. They are employees. Everyone who works on Wall Street is an employee. Each one is subject to the law.
If this piece had been approached with the mindset that this is a story about an emerging type of illegal, systematic discrimination, some important questions would have been asked, and readers would have walked way with some important insights.
For example, this man would have been asked: If you aren’t having dinners with women under 35, are you still dining with men under 35? If so, are you aware that that is discrimination?
Even more importantly, the piece would have focused equally on the companies in which these practices are taking place. After all, the practices can only exists when companies permit them (explicitly or implicitly).
To go back to the nut, the nut—the frame—would have read: “In the wake of #MeToo, male executives on Wall Street have increasingly adopted personal policies that illegally discriminate against female colleagues. As a result, more companies are taking steps to….”
And yet, this story doesn’t talk to a single company. Not a single one was asked: Are you aware that your employees are starting to discriminate against women? What are you doing about it?
And listen, I understand the men’s fears. I can totally imagine how an executive who has worked hard for decades and has witnessed what’s happened over the last year, could be terrified that everything he’s worked for could be taken away in an instant.
That is a totally legitimate concern.
Which is why the story needed to turn to the companies. It needed to ask them:
Because, in the end, that’s really what this is all about.
But not a single company was interviewed.
How we, as journalists, frame stories carries extraordinary weight.
But the approach this story took was catastrophic.
(I don’t know the reporters of this piece. I am sure they are smart and talented. They wouldn’t be at Bloomberg if they weren’t. And I have enormous respect for Bloomberg, which does amazing journalism.)
It was catastrophic bc it left readers with the impression that #MeToo is creating backlash for women on Wall Street and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
That’s catastrophic to women, because once again it reinforces that, hey, one more thing to deal with. Don’t like it? You figure it out.
When in fact responsibility for tackling this rests with employers. Companies that are serious about fairness and equitable workplaces (not to mention not losing the brilliant brains that will walk out if your workplace sucks) are the ones who have to address this.
But it’s also catastrophic to men. Bc, frankly, I’m guessing most of them also just want safe, equitable workplaces where they can have good relationships with their colleagues and not have to implement self-protective policies that even they, at their core, know are wrong.
The impression this story could have left readers with is: Wall Street companies are aware that their executives are beginning to discriminate against women out of fears of #MeToo, and here’s what they’re doing about it.
It was a giant missed opportunity.