The Kaleidoscope Group discusses #metoo at work and the opportunity it presents for inclusion

The #MeToo Movement At Work: Moving Forward Together

The #MeToo movement, which began in earnest in October of 2017, has put a stark light on ways women have been treated, objectified, and often marginalized in popular culture, society, and at work. Individuals and organizations have looked at their personal and institutional behaviors and practices to identify past failures and opportunities for progress and change – but, like any self-revealing exercise – this hasn’t come without turbulence.

Solving the problem vs addressing the symptoms

At The Kaleidoscope Group, we’ve  seen the struggle organizations are sometimes having to productively respond to this opportunity for inclusion. We’ve seen reactionary stances from men, who have often historically held positions of privilege in work relationships with women, now arguing that #MeToo in fact marginalizes them. And, we’ve seen well-intended leadership teams struggle to understand what’s right, how to communicate, and what to do next.

We share a growing concern that one of the response mechanisms to the movement is to alienate and isolate women in general. There’s a troubling notion that the best way to not get implicated or accused of any misconduct or behavior is to not interact with women at all. Often led by men, some companies are considering or enacting policies of protection, requiring men and women to no longer travel together, for instance. Beyond the obviously impractical nature of this response, employment attorneys have also stated that this behavior could actually be illegal.

Some may know this as the “Mike Pence dinner rule” where Vice President Mike Pence has indicated he does not dine alone with women who are not his wife. In this case, the purpose is to go so far as to not even create an appearance of any sort of misconduct.

Segregation is not the answer

“One can see where segregation would have obvious implication in business, where relationships and connections matter.”

Let’s call this position what it is – segregation. It’s important to step back and understand the era that we are in. Thankfully, there has been a huge movement of empowerment when misconduct and inappropriate behavior is being reported and highlighted. And in some cases where behavior is illegal, individuals are being prosecuted. Additionally, the #MeToo movement disrupts the status quo and lets society and leaders know that some behavior is not, and never should have been, acceptable. However, the segregation rule—where women are isolated professionally their male colleagues—is not the answer. Segregation has never been the answer. This has dangerous implications, as it creates a “good ol’ boys“ club professional and social situations.

Beyond the basic impracticality of segregation, it’s important to step back and realize how misunderstood the #MeToo movement and other women empowerment movements are from a societal standpoint. However, we also understand the broader implications that many individuals, organizations, or entities are still missing the point completely in the understanding of creating an inclusive environment.

We believe inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels that their voice is heard, valued, and respected. When refusing to include all members of a team in basic relationship building events, such as dinners or other social situations, organizations should recognize the clear negative implications.

Inclusion empowers individuals and your entire workforce

Rather than limiting the “inclusion” conversation to the workforce, it is our goal to empower individuals and organizations to understand the true worth of inclusion. This worth is developing and building an atmosphere where ideas freely flow, people are empowered, and people feel valued and aligned with the organization’s mission. It’s an “outcomes-based” inclusion perspective, that goes beyond trying to achieve certain workforce representation targets, and rather, understands that inclusive teams are more productive teams. Why does diversity and inclusion really matter in an organization? It matters because inclusive environments are where all feel welcomed rather than isolated, appreciated for their unique skill-sets and what we they bring to the table, respected rather than “just along for the ride”, and treated as an integral part of a team. This will have the most profound impacts on the organization – including key performance metrics, top-line revenues, and bottom-line profits.
We’re glad that the #MeToo movement has continued to gain momentum and shed light on an all too ubiquitous culture of misconduct and harassment. These are extremely complex issues, with sometimes severe accusations, that in many cases illuminate criminal conduct. The challenge – and opportunity – that #MeToo presents is for organizations to take seriously the opportunity for building inclusive work environments where everybody is united, without bias on gender, if we want to create a cohesive, comprehensive approach to working better together.

 

Jodi Matas is the Marketer Director at The Kaleidoscope Group. She’s a master organizer with strong analytical, strategy and leadership skills and has a keen eye for detail. She plans and executes projects with confidence and enthusiasm. She loves to learn. Learning new things is her eternal mission and the key to her growth both personally and professionally.

 

Joseph Gasparo of The Kaleidoscope GroupJoe Gasparo is a Sr. Consultant at The Kaleidoscope Group. He’s passionate about helping individuals and organizations fulfill their mission by unleashing the full potential of their most valuable asset – people. Joe is energized by helping others build inclusive, creative, and outcomes-driven teams to have a maximum impact on the world.
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