#MeToo is getting expensive for the insurance companies who issue policies to errant companies. I wrote about it today in this piece for The Intercept.
In a matter of weeks, two senior executives at global businesses lost their jobs related to alleged sexual harassment or clueless talk about gender.
CEO Roger Ailes is out at Fox News. Chairman Kevin Roberts is out at Saatchi & Saatchi.
On the surface, it almost looks like we’ve made some progress on the sex discrimination front. Dig a little deeper, though, and it looks like more of the same: a flurry of public attention that ultimately will peter out.
I explained why neither case is a game-changer for women at work in my column today for TheStreet.com.
Sometimes, even a loss can be a win.
A San Francisco jury said last month that Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers did not discriminate or retaliate against its former junior partner, Ellen Pao. From my column for TheStreet.com:
The four-week trial had received intense media coverage for its allegations of porn-star talk in business settings and exclusion of women from company events. Rather than invite a woman on a company ski trip, “Why don’t we punt on her and find 2 guys who are awesome?” a Kleiner partner suggested in an email.
Pao lost. But women didn’t. The case brought huge attention to workplace issues that rarely get aired. Most employers require employees to agree to give up their right to sue before they even show up for the first day of work. So-called “mandatory arbitration” agreements keep gender discrimination complaints out of the public eye, and leave violators of our discrimination laws unaccountable.
You can read my column here.
Oral arguments are expected to begin Tuesday in the sex discrimination case against the powerful Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Ellen Pao, who sued Kleiner nearly three years ago, accused the firm of gender discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation. I wrote about her case in my column for TheStreet last week.
Pao, who is interim CEO of the micro-blogging site Reddit, says that after she complained of discrimination at Kleiner, she went from being a star among junior partners to an employee viewed as a whiner who had “issues and clashes” with colleagues. She says one coworker badgered her into having an affair, and that a partner at the firm gave her a copy of a book of poetry with sexual imagery.
Kleiner has asked the judge to clear the courtroom when there’s evidence being presented about its proprietary business information and financial performance, among other things. Even if it wins on that motion, there are sure to be plenty of fireworks that remain for public consumption.
When Pao filed her suit in 2012, I noted this about the sad history of women in the workplace a column for Bloomberg View:
Twelve of Kleiner’s 49 partners are women, and in the venture-capital business, that’s considered very, very good. How is it that 20 years after Anita Hill broke the silence about gender discrimination and harassment at work, there are still companies that can take a bow for being gender-equality heroes when 75 percent of their leaders are men?