2018 – The Year of The Male Glass Ceiling?


It’s been going on for a few months now, even a few years, maybe forever… depending on how you look at it. Women have finally had enough and are demanding basic worker rights. However, demanding rights and EFFECTIVELY getting men to pay for many years of harassment and underpay is just beginning. We are nowhere near the peak of this revolution.

Cultural change in America is often led by celebrities and the pretty people. Taylor Swift raised eyebrows when she refused to follow the script. Instead of, “Your honor… I’m sorry I’m pretty. But could you please protect me from this terrible molester?” Instead, she said, “He stayed latched onto my bare ass!” Perhaps most importantly, Taylor said, “I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is any way my fault because it isn’t.”   

The real story is that her being angry in court. Or that her molester felt that he could get away with putting his hand up Taylor Swift’s dress while they stood on a public stage. It’s not even that he molester sued Swift for telling his employer what happened. The real story is that the molester’s point of view accurately maps America’s beliefs about how often and how deeply sexual abuse is woven into our culture. 

We’ve heard interesting stories from Hollywood. Harvey Weinstein seems to be the source of at least one hundred molestation cases, probably more. And there seems to be a problem in Washington as well. If this was a movie, the Trailers haven’t even started. No, we’re just wandering around finding our seats, hearing an occasional cough in the distance. Everything so far, that’s just background coughs. The real story is about to play in IMAX with 3D sound. 

A new year of indignities is about to start. In high paying professions… lawyers, doctors, accountants, stock brokers, media firms, marketing, etc. … this is when bonuses are calculated, checks are handed out, and new promotions are announced. Bonuses are usually not made public, but top executives may be legally required to announce their compensation.

As the list of molesters grows and becomes ever more public, will victims and co-workers keep their silence as new Harvey Weinstein’s and Roger Ailes are put into positions of power? Will HR departments finally take actions against misbehaving executives? Is it time that the Board of Directors or major stockholders demand a code of standards to force out predators? Will executives see victims as liabilities that need to be eliminated? When it’s time to hand out raises and promotions, corporate America will either…

  • Hand out overdue promotions: Don’t expect this to happen too often as long as current managers and HR departments are in charge. If managers are able to promote without the approval of others, they will be legitimately frightened that they are providing evidence that they are fixing an obvious problem.  
  • Promote undeserving workers: The focus has been on unwanted sexual advances of managers. But what about managers that traded undeserved promotions for sex? When managers pay for sex with company resources, qualified workers are penalized. Putting unqualified workers in management positions weakens good companies. What does your HR handbook say about “pay for play”?   
  • Unfairly and illegally terminate victims and witnesses: Nothing new here. This has been corporate America’s default action. Molesters often threaten victims with termination and tarnished reputations. Hiding indiscretions and then punishing victims is the only “solution” that some managers understand. Rather than reform, expect some managers to double down on bad decisions.

How will victims and coworkers react? We can expect many more leaks about executives and their abuses. Some workplaces, such as the US government, will probably pass “protective” laws that silence whistleblowers. Like the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act. You may get an official statement that the molester is guilty,  but the minute the victim starts the process they are bound to silence. We don’t need more silence. When workers see bonuses and promotions for the year, we can expect many “revelations”.  

#MeToo and #TimesUp are spreading around the world to even the most isolated locations. Like Silicon Valley and corporate IT. You don’t think they’re isolated? Care the count the number of female executives? Even the tools created by Internet Billionaires (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) follow rules that protect people molesters and punish victims. Women are constantly shamed, trolled and generally abused by a largely male audience. 

Many of these actions may be illegal under the 1963 Equal Pay Act, which guarantees equal pay for equal work (and a fair workplace) regardless of sex, race or creed. But Congress and our court system have had little interest in seeing if it applies to how women have been treated. Now, Congress is frantically working on new legislation to address sexual abuse and pay inequality.

Will they succeed? Maybe. Will it get done in 2018? No, they won’t. But to quote Winston Churchill, “… this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Consider how much needs to be done.  In 1960, women only earned 60% of what men made. In 2016 it rose to 80%. Unless you have a highly paid job, like a stockbroker. Here, women make just 55% of what their male counterparts make.

Let’s face it, women just aren’t going close this gap as long as men keep moving the goalposts. To make serious gains, women must have the ability to change the game. What a minute… if women held more than 20% of the seats in Congress, maybe Congress would have a different agenda, with different priorities.

Why not go for it in 2018? I know, I know, you feel that you can’t take a position if you are unqualified. But GOOD NEWS! That’s no longer a barrier in Washington. No one has ever been less qualified for political office than President Trump! Yet, even when his supporters that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, they still say he’s doing a great job! It’s time to join the Trump revolution and run for office!

There are some signs of early progress. Imperative Entertainment tossed Kevin Spacey from the movie “All The Money In The World” due to his bad behavior. But ***sigh*** negative Kudo’s for not paying any of the women for reshooting scenes, yet having the money to pay at least one male actor (Mark Wahlberg) $1.5 million!

Michelle Williams, who respot the same scenes,  only received an $80 a day per diem (total of $1,000). This serves as a gentle reminder that even when Hollywood says it will do the right thing, their sense of justice is so corrupted that they cannot see how bad their daily decisions are.

As you read through this story, you might notice a pattern emerging. Men are all about personal rewards, be it money or title and most often both. When they have power, men use it for personal gain, often putting their interests ahead of their peers, employees, and stockholders. Women tend to think in terms of personal sacrifice, the success of the group, and mentoring. Not just in these few examples. Studies repeatedly show that women are better leaders, even when it measuring traditionally “male” characteristics like initiative and getting results.

Don’t agree? Fair enough. Men and women are, after all, individuals. If women dominated at work for a few centuries, they might make decisions that are just as bad as those made by men. Male culture has enforced two very corrosive policies which make the workplace unfair to all women, and most men.  

(1) Cult of the individual: Since the emergence of the modern corporation, CEO’s were paid around 10 times as much as the average worker. That is the way it was for a very long time. However, towards the end of the 20th century, CEO pay began to rise. By 1980, CEO’s were paid 27 times the average pay in their corporation. But as corporations continued to grow, executive pay outpaced corporate growth and profitability. 

Do stockholders really believe that in a company of 50,000 workers, just 1 person deserves such a large share of the profits? In the day of high sea pirates, the exact process of handling pay… excuse me Booty… was very specific. Everyone in the crew got a share, and the Captain received two shares. CEOs are now paid 300 to 400 times the average worker pay.  

Are CEO’s and other top executives really three or four hundred times as responsible for corporate performance than other workers? If that is true, when profits fall or corporations are penalized by regulators, do executives take a disproportionate share of the responsibility and the penalty? Very rarely! Pirates, on the other hand, were tried for their misdeeds and hung. Starting with the Captain.

When corporations fail and global economies fail, CEOs and other executives are rarely jailed, to say nothing of executed. When things go bad, executives usually say that they aren’t responsible for the actions of their corporations, or didn’t know what their employees were doing. Maybe, just maybe, when big corporations make big mistakes, it should be reflected in compensation. Over reward and over protection of executives created the environment where they are free to sexually prey on workers without fear of penalties.

(2) Little worker recognition: If the CEO and a few key executives are singularly responsible for the success of the firm, then it is logical that other workers must contribute very little. Ensuring that mediocre workers are well paid seems… pointless… given their limited impact on the bottom line. This is what has happened in corporate America.

According to the PEW research center, pay for the average worker stagnated in the mid-1960’s, about the time that executive pay started to accelerate. This is also when women started to move into the labor force and into professional positions. Whatever the thinking of corporate executives, their actions showed that they consistently favored their own compensation over everyone else.

Before unions were in complete decline, in bad financial years executives demanded lower pay, lower benefits, and no bonuses. For workers. Yet in the same year, executives often received full pay or even pay increases. When executives consistently get more and workers get less… less pay, few worker rights, and no protection from sexual predators in the workplace… we shouldn’t be surprised to find that executives rarely pay attention to the rights of women.

Interestingly, when executives were guilty of molesting workers, corporations wrote the checks to pay the victims. Executives have created an unfair working environment, violated worker rights, and then used he corporate balance sheet to bail out their mistakes. At FoxNews, the board of executives eventually found out that Roger Ailes alone cost them over $20 million in hush money payments.

If we looked at all of the payoffs, the unwarranted terminations, the bad promotions, and all of the other tangible costs of the abuse of women, how many billions of dollars are we all paying to keep this corrupt system going? I’m guessing that in boardrooms across America, this question is being asked. 

So, here we are. The first major worker revolt of the 21st century. Will it keep growing and become a political revolt? Will inequitable pay go away as long-delayed promotions are awarded? Will midterm elections lead to a Tsunami of female winners? How about the Oscars having just a single best “Male or Female actor” category? Change is coming… let’s see how many glass ceilings we can break in 2018!

This entry was posted in Best Practices, Decision Making, Employment, Improvement and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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