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过犹不及?#MeToo运动可能给职场女性带来不利影响

Annie Fisher 2018年11月08日

一些人无法判断怎样才能保证职场“安全”,于是决定避免同女性合作或是与女性出差,又或者避免给女性一些好机会或是提拔女性。

最近传出了一些关于谷歌的消息,相当耐人寻味。先是《纽约时报》爆出,安卓系统之父安迪·鲁宾因为一起2014年的性骚扰指控被低调解雇,谷歌还付给了他9000万美元的所谓“离职补偿”。之后《财富》杂志报道称,谷歌过去几年还因为性侵问题炒了48名员工,包括13位管理者(但没有离职补偿)。

当然,不止是谷歌如此。自去年好莱坞明星制作人哈维·韦恩斯坦的性丑闻引发备受关注的反性骚扰运动#MeToo以来,一年之间数百位美国企业高管被解聘,其中有些是大众熟知的名人,还有些名气相对小一点。美国联邦执法机构公平就业机会委员会(EEOC)报告称,有关不端性行为的指控增长了12%,为五年来首次增长。EEOC的律师提起了41宗独立的性骚扰诉讼,立案数量较2017年大增逾50%。包括诉讼费在内,EEOC对原告索偿合计将近7000万美元,较一年前增长22%。这些还没算州一级法院的官司,也没算上雇主庭外私下和解的案子。

事情还远未结束。目前还不清楚,#MeToo运动可能引起哪些连锁反应。现在一些观察人士想了解,#MeToo运动对女性在争取权益方面会产生什么影响。位于洛杉矶的律师事务所Akerman的劳动关系诉讼律师米歇尔·李·弗洛雷斯说:“让我担心的是已经开始出现强烈抵制。可惜的是,抵制基于误导信息。”

弗洛雷斯与美国各地的企业客户合作,制定反骚扰政策并提供相关培训。她认为,耸动的电视新闻片段或者感性的互联网新闻头条很少能让读者全面了解事件,却让人们以为自己了解全部真相。她和律师同行见了很多经理,大部分是男性,近来很多人都产生了不必要的恐慌。

“经常听到有人说,比如‘看看那个在某公司的某人遇到事了!就因为一次指控,他就被炒鱿鱼了!’”弗洛雷斯说,“他们的理解其实并不准确,因为公众很难了解某人的完整经历。”她指出,不为人知的地方才是关键,“某人可能凭空遭到性骚扰指控并拒绝承认,但可能在其他方面违反了公司的政策”,而这些是外人没法了解的。

因为很难了解别人被解雇的真实原因,一些人无法判断怎样才能保证职场“安全”,于是决定避免同女性合作或是与女性出差,又或者避免给女性一些好机会或是提拔女性。看起来是不是像几十年前大家很熟悉的情景?我们怎么开了倒车?弗洛雷斯称:“这话可能听起来很极端,但我听说一些男性高管真的很担心,害怕女同事‘反咬一口’。”

全球最大人力资源行业协会人力资源管理协会(SHRM)的新近研究印证了弗洛雷斯的看法。这项研究调查了1.8万名美国企业高管,来自15个行业各层级,其中约三分之一(32%)的受访者表示,过去一年“调整了行为”,因为对职场性骚扰的危害认识更加深刻,包括职业道德的风险(23%的人这样认为)和员工忠诚度(另有23%的人这样看)。只有21%的受访者说,自己所在的公司“从不必担心性骚扰问题”。

受访经理向SHRM透露已采取的一些行动:不再派男性导师指导资历较浅的女员工;如果“员工人数少于三名”,则不允许在办公室加班,“且一定要有管理者在场”;严禁身体接触,“如果要靠近女同事3英尺(约0.91米)范围内,会先征得对方允许,而且和女性的距离从来不少于3英尺”。一位经理告诉SHRM,他“害怕跟女性说话”,也害怕讨论女性。

不难想象,男性过分小心谨慎带来的各类微妙影响最终会破坏女性的职场发展。那么,办公室恋情要怎么办?是死路一条,还是比过去麻烦得多?最理想的情况是,充分发挥男女搭配的好处,尽量避免导致的问题。

一些企业领导者看起来很愿意努力。例如,在SHRM调查中,将近40%的高管表示,对#MeToo运动的反应主要是,对内部的幽默或者黄段子更“谨慎”或者更“留意”。曾在雅虎和谷歌任设计师和经理的莎拉·库珀说:“可能并不是坏事”,特别在科技业。科技行业经常有男性言谈粗鲁会令女性不快,女性还只能表现得若无其事,一笑置之。

库珀著有《怎样在不伤害男性感情的情况下取得成功》(How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings)一书,书中她半开玩笑地向女性提供职业指南。她离开硅谷是为了追寻毕生的梦想,做单口喜剧。但多年来她发现,许多女性逃离信息科技业的原因并不那么让人愉快。库珀说:“人们在工作中也需要开心。赶走人才的有毒文化不仅是女性的损失,也是公司的损失。”她说得太对了。(财富中文网)

本文作者安妮·费希尔是职场专家,也是提供职场建议的专栏作家。她在《财富》杂志开设“解决问题”(Work It Out)专栏,向读者提供21世纪的工作与生活指南。

 

译者:Pessy

审校:夏林

These are interesting times for Google. The New York Times spilled the beans about a $90 million “exit package” Android creator Andy Rubin was purportedly paid to leave quietly after a sexual harassment allegation in 2014. Then came the news that Google has fired 48 other people over the past couple of years, including 13 managers, for the same reason (but sans exit packages).

Of course, it’s not just Google. In the 12 months since the ouster of Harvey Weinstein brought awareness of the anti-sexual-harassment movement MeToo into sharp focus, hundreds of other U.S. executives—some famous, many less so—have gotten the boot. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that allegations of misconduct rose 12%, the first increase in five years. The EEOC’s lawyers filed 41 separate sexual harassment suits, a jump of more than 50% from 2017. Between litigation and other proceedings, the agency required a total of nearly $70 million to be paid to plaintiffs, up 22% from the year before. And none of that even begins to count what’s happening at the state level, or what employers are paying in private settlements behind closed doors.

It’s a long way from over, and all the possible ripple effects aren’t yet clear. For now, some observers wonder what impact #MeToo might have on the gains that women have struggled to make in business. “What worries me is that we’re starting to see a backlash,” says Michelle Lee Flores. “Unfortunately, it’s based on misinformation.”

A partner in employment law at Akerman in Los Angeles, Flores works with corporate clients nationwide on crafting anti-harassment policies and training. As she sees it, a juicy TV news sound bite or sensational Internet headline rarely tells the whole story—yet leaves people with the impression that they know all about it. So, she and her fellow lawyers meet many (mostly male) managers these days who are panicking unnecessarily.

“You hear people say things like, ‘Look what happened to So-and-So at Such-and-Such Company! He was fired after just one accusation!'” Flores says. “That’s not an accurate understanding, because the public almost never sees the whole history of someone’s behavior.” What happens behind the scenes is what counts, she adds: “Someone can be accused of one specific instance of harassment, and truthfully deny it, while still admitting to a whole pattern of other incidents which violated company policy”—and which no one outside the company ever gets wind of.

Knowing almost nothing about the real reasons someone was fired may not, alas, stop some people from deciding that the way to stay “safe” is to avoid working alongside women. Or traveling with them. Or sending them out on plum assignments. Or promoting them. Is this starting to sound way too familiar from decades ago? What year are we in again? “It might sound extreme,” Flores notes. “But I’ve heard male executives express a real concern that having female colleagues ‘could come back to bite me’.”

New research from the Society for Human Resource Management suggests she has a point. In a survey of 18,000 U.S. employees, at all levels across 15 industries, about one-third (32%) of executives say they’ve “changed their behavior” in the past year because of a greater awareness of the hazards of sexual misconduct at work, including risks to morale (23%) and employee engagement (also 23%). Only 21% said harassment “has never been an issue” in their companies.

Some of the steps managers told SHRM they’ve taken: Male mentors can no longer be assigned to women less senior then themselves. Working in the office after hours is no longer allowed “for groups of fewer than three employees, and must include a manager.” No touching ever, and “asking permission to enter a 3-foot space, and NEVER [caps theirs] closer than 3 feet.” One manager told SHRM he’s “scared to say anything” to or about women, ever.

It’s not hard to imagine all kinds of subtle consequences—and, ultimately, damage to women’s careers—from so much caution. And what happens to office romance? Is it dead, or just a lot more fraught than ever? Ideally, we could keep what was great about male-female diversity and just get rid of what wasn’t.

Some leaders seem willing to try. Consider, for instance, that almost 40% of the executives in the SHRM study said their own reaction to #MeToo has mainly been to be more “careful” or “mindful” about locker-room humor and sexist jokes. “That may not be a bad thing,” especially in tech, says Sarah Cooper, a former designer and manager at Yahoo! and Google, where there’s a long tradition of “men saying things that make women uncomfortable, and the women just having to ‘be cool’ and laugh it off.”

Cooper, who wrote a tongue-in-cheek new career guide for women called How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings, quit Silicon Valley to chase a lifelong dream of doing stand-up comedy, but over the years she saw plenty of other women flee IT for less happy reasons. “People need to have fun at work,” she says. “But having the kind of toxic culture that drives talent away isn’t just a loss to women—it’s a loss to companies, too.” Too true.

Anne Fisher is a career expert and advice columnist who writes “Work It Out,” Fortune’s guide to working and living in the 21st century.

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