BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Wall Street executives say that, in the wake of #MeToo, they are avoiding women at all costs

Dec 10, 2018, 3:37 PM
wall street stock market economy finance federal reserve...
File photo of the iconic Charging Bull and Fearless Girl statues at Wall Street. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Don’t meet with any women one-on-one. Never dine alone with one other than your wife. And if you’re seated next to one on a plane, demand that they change your seat.

That’s the lesson of the #MeToo Movement, according to the advice being passed around on Wall Street, Bloomberg reports.

Based on interviews with more than 30 senior executives in Wall Street, they’ve found that America’s biggest financial district is reacting to the fight against sexual harassment by shutting women out altogether.

The Pence Effect

File photo of the Wall Street sign outside of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

They call it the “Pence Effect”, named for the U.S. Vice President who says that he avoid dining along with any woman other than his own wife.

It’s a strategy that Wall Street executives say they’re taking to heart. When surveyed by Bloomberg, an overwhelming majority of these executives said they were finding ways to make sure they were never caught alone with a woman.

Some told reporters they are making it a personal policy not to meet alone with female colleagues under the age of 35 altogether, while others are completely eliminating office parties to make sure that, at their company, alcohol, women, and witnesses to a lawsuit never mix.

It might all seem a bit drastic – but this is Wall Street, and on Wall Street, women’s equality still has a long way to go. Women on Wall Street still earn just 77 cents for every dollar made by men.

Sexual harassment, likewise, is rampant: according to a Vanity Fair exposé, 70 percent of women in the financial sector say they have been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Some have reported co-workers shoving their hands up their skirts, while others say they’ve openly demanded sexual favors. And when they’ve reported it, they’ve been told to “tough it out” and be a “team player”.

The “Pence Effect” has been the industry’s reaction to a fear that the industry is going to breed its own Harvey Weinstein and see press headlines filled with scandals of their own.

Their approach, however, has been harshly criticized for cutting women out. Unspoken rules to keep men from meeting with women in private have had an effect; according to Reuters, Wall Street has had a massive drop in female employment.

According to employment attorney Stephen Zweig, the “Pence Effect” approach is just going to lead to more trouble.

“If men avoid working or traveling with women alone, or stop mentoring women for fear of being accused of sexual harassment,” he told Bloomberg, “those men are going to back out of a sexual harassment complaint and right into a sex discrimination complaint.”

Dave & Dujanovic on the Pence Effect

KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic talked about this on the air, and Debbie Dujanovic said that, if she hadn’t been able to meet with men in private, she never would have made it anywhere in her career.

If you missed the show live, you can still hear everything they had to say on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google Play Music

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Wall Street executives say that, in the wake of #MeToo, they are avoiding women at all costs