The excesses of the #MeToo movement are wreaking havoc on Wall Street and hurting women. Instead of bringing about the gender equality feminists were promised, men across Wall Street are shutting out females for fear of being falsely accused of sexual misconduct or harassment.
According to a Bloomberg report, men are taking drastic precautions to separate themselves from women to the point that it's being compared to "gender segregation" in an already male-dominated industry. One unnamed wealth advisor told Bloomberg that even the prospect of hiring a female is "an unknown risk."
In other words, the #MeToo movement has unintentionally made a woman's success in industries like Wall Street all the more difficult to achieve.
Bloomberg spoke to 30 senior executives who are "spooked" by the #MeToo movement. "It's creating a sense of walking on eggshells," said economic advisor and former Morgan Stanley bigwig David Bahnsen.
And there's a doubled-edged sword element to the #MeToo backlash, as noted by employment attorney Stephen Zweig. "If men avoid working or traveling with women alone, or stop mentoring women for fear of being accused of sexual harassment, those men are going to back out of a sexual harassment complaint and right into a sex discrimination complaint," he said.
"Some men have voiced concerns to me that a false accusation is what they fear. These men fear what they cannot control," added Zweig.
Women also spoke about the hit they've taken on Wall Street in the #MeToo era. "Women are grasping for ideas on how to deal with it, because it is affecting our careers. It's a real loss," complained Karen Elinski, president of the Financial Women’s Association and a senior vice president at Wells Fargo & Co.
Lisa Kaufman, chief executive officer of LaSalle Securities, said women need men as mentors to progress up the ladder. "There aren't enough women in senior positions to bring along the next generation all by themselves," she said. "Advancement typically requires that someone at a senior level knows your work, gives you opportunities and is willing to champion you within the firm. It’s hard for a relationship like that to develop if the senior person is unwilling to spend one-on-one time with a more junior person."
Kaufman concluded that men need to step up and "not let fear be a barrier."
But belittling men's real concerns avoids the underlying issues entirely, and is not helpful for women.
This backlash in the workplace was repeatedly prophesied by #MeToo skeptics, who were quickly slammed as misogynists and pro-sexual assault. Instead, the sex panic fomented by feminists was entirely ignored. When good men are burned at the stake in the court of public opinion without so much as a shred of corroborating evidence, when the definition of sexual harassment is widened to something as innocuous as complimenting a woman, when the media perpetuate exaggerated claims of rampant "rape culture," when tech employees are canned for recognizing differences in men and women, the logical conclusion is for men to shut their mouths and to avoid women as opposed to navigating an inconsistent, illogical minefield.
If women want to promote actual equality while simultaneously protecting all victims of sexual harassment and assault, it would serve them well to rein in the #MeToo movement. Turns out, advocating for special treatment and the anti-American notion that all accusers be immediately believed doesn't serve women in the long run.