When will the tide turn on the impact of #MeToo?
We published our research “Cross-Gender Relations in a Post-#MeToo World” in 2018. It was our fervent hope that this would start a conversation about the unintended consequences of the #MeToo movement – namely that men were starting to avoid contact with women in the workplace, most notably, in respect to mentoring. We were hopeful that, with careful recommendations about how co-gender mentoring could be approached, men would lose their fear about developing close working relationships with women and we would start to see men mentoring women once again.
The media circus circling men mentoring women
In recent weeks, there has been a flurry of media attention around this.
A panel on a popular Australian TV program featured discussion around men mentoring women as covered by Womens Agenda. This resulted in an outcry against a female politician who claimed she would “discourage men from taking on one-on-one mentoring”.
In another recent article, associate professor at the University of Texas, Richard Reddick, suggests that men (and women) in leadership have a responsibility to help people in their organisations reach their potential. Opting out of engagement with women in core activities like mentoring “embraces the idea that men are unable to control their behaviour or lack judgment about what constitutes appropriate conduct”.
Yet again, following the The World Economic Forum at Davos this article goes on to explain that “#MeToo has become a risk-management issue for men”, and as a result, those men are withholding their professional experience and refusing to mentor women.
It really is time that men stop allowing fear of accusations of harassment from fulfilling their responsibility to support women and provide them with the same pathways to leadership that men enjoy. Take sensible steps, take care, maintain boundaries, and get on with it.
No more avoiding. Enough excuses.
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© 2019 Melissa Richardson, Co-founder and Managing Director of Art of Mentoring