What #MeToo Has to Do With the Workplace Gender Gap

A new study from Lean In and McKinsey shows the pervasiveness of sexual harassment at the office and the persistence of inequality. That isn’t a coincidence.

What has been less apparent, though, is how harassment and the gender gap are inextricably linked. In fact, management experts and executives say, harassment can be a direct side effect of a workplace that slights women on everything from pay to promotions, especially when the perception is that men run the show and women can’t speak up.

Putting more women into executive ranks where they can have a greater collective voice goes hand-in-hand with making workplaces feel safer and more inclusive

.. “You can’t separate them,” she says. “When women see other women in a position of leadership, it reframes what they think is possible to them.”

.. Among women in technical roles, 45% reported experiencing harassment, while 55% of women in senior positions did.

“This is about power,” says Rachel Thomas, president of LeanIn.Org, the nonprofit founded by Facebook Inc.’s Sheryl Sandberg to support women in their career ambitions. “And there is still a dramatic power imbalance in the workplace.”

.. One in five women say they are often the only, or one of the only, women in the room or a meeting—and women commonly in those situations are at greater risk of harassment and more subtle forms of discrimination
.. “I joke that I chose a career where there’s no line for the bathroom,” says Kate Mitchell
.. “Decisions get made in the men’s room,” she says. “Do you follow them into the men’s room? Do you put your ear against the wall? Many times, it was easy to hear and so when they came out, I’d just start up the conversation” where they’d left off.
.. there are signs #MeToo is having an effect. Corporate hotlines have lit up since Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein became the first of dozens of powerful men to be toppled by harassment allegations last October.
.. Microsoft Corp. , Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. have scrapped agreements that forced employees to resolve harassment claims in arbitration hearings rather than in open court.
.. cracked down on a frat-house work culture by banning alcohol in the office.

.. One thing managers spotted and changed was that there wasn’t always a woman on the job-interview team. That could both discourage female applicants and contribute to biased hiring decisions
.. To help get the conversation going, Ms. Steinberg told the group how, early in her career at another company, one of the most senior men cornered her in the copy room and groped her breast. Though she told her then-boss, they concluded the man held so much power that she would be better off not pressing the matter.
“I think back on it and still feel humiliated,” she says. At Zenefits, “we need to make sure employees know they have a voice.”
.. Another frequent question: whether hugging a colleague is still all right.
.. While nearly 60% of men say gender diversity is a high priority at their companies, only 44% of women do. Men are also more likely to worry the diversity focus will make their workplaces less of a meritocracy. In fact, one in seven say they worry that being a man will make it harder for them to advance.
.. That could include efforts as small as highlighting a point a woman made in a meeting if someone interrupts her, or, if a colleague repeats her idea without giving her credit, pointing out that she raised it first
.. create succession plans for their positions, and each has to include at least one woman and a person with a minority background. That motivates bosses to make sure those candidates get the experience and support they need to be viable potential successors
In the past, “everything we did was a program, this thing on diversity or this thing on unconscious-bias training,” Mr. Schlifske says. “I don’t think those are bad, but I just never saw those work if you didn’t add something in the workplace that was more day-to-day kind of stuff.”