Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Parenting Pointers: Age Discrimination and #MeToo in the Workplace

In a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the authors suggest two possible reasons why older female job seekers face more age discrimination than males. While age discrimination is illegal, in practice it's difficult to prove. A federal law called the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects people who are 40 years and older from age-based employment discrimination. This law prohibits discriminating against a person because of her age with respect to any term, or condition of employment, including promotions, compensation, benefits, assignments, training and of course, hiring itself. (Read the Forbes story).

I had a chance to interview Dr. ArLyne Diamond, President of Diamond Associates, Workplace Consultant, & #MeToo expert. 

She says:
  • Men feel more comfortable working with other men. Knowing they could get away with it – they pay women less.
  • Men network and offer each other jobs much better than do women. Some women, clinging to their newly found seat at the C-level table don't want the competition from other women and so are not overly eager to mentor and support their sisters.
  • If women aren't assertive – they get lost in the crowd. Whenever a woman is trying to ask a question – if there is a man on line behind her he has no problem ignoring her and asking his question of the speaker as though she weren't even in the room.
  • All too often women seek professions that aren't the ones that are usually fast-tracked for C level promotions. If we are still being "good girls" we are not standing out as better and more qualified.
  • Now with the #MeToo movement – men are afraid of being near women.

How can age and gender discrimination be a double-whammy for women?
·      Since both kinds of discrimination exist, women can be rejected more easily than men – because of assumptions about age and gender.  For example:
  • The presumption is that older men and women  can’t keep up – they aren’t current – their faculties have slowed down.
  • Women are presumed to be inferior in hard skills hard thinking. Thus in the workplace not as good as men. In addition, the #MEtoo movement has frightened many men away from working collegially with women

What can women do to make sure they're on a level playing field with men?
·      We were almost there – women have made great strides and many are now in positions of serious power and responsibility.  They earned their way to the top – but we need to be careful we don’t lose ground.
·      We want parity – but we want special treatment at the same time. Now, some women, part of the #Wetoo movement, are asking to be treated like cotton candy – sterilize the workplace, make sure we are protected from any inappropriate behavior, no matter how minor, and even protect us from working in open spaces….. so  to the extent that we are being overly-sensitive we are losing parity – not gaining it.
·      I am not suggesting that the #Metoo movement is bad, or that women should accept harassment and abuse. I am suggesting that we don’t go too far to the other extreme.
·      Being on a level playing field means being as competent, working the same crazy long hours, and in many cases, not having a life outside of work. Do we really want that? Most of the time women have additional interests and responsibilities. We are the primary caretakers of our family/children. We don’t want to work 24/7 – but some of us do.
·      So for those that do it is important that they have equal opportunities for promotion, equal opportunities for the same compensation as men in similar positions.

How has #MeToo impacted women in the workplace?
·      The good – the bad – and the ugly
·      The good:  Women are far safer physically and psychologically
·      The bad:    men are shying away from working with – mentoring – or otherwise having one-on-ones with women
·      The ugly:  some are using it as a weapon to get rid of people in power – we see this in politics currently.  This has made men very afraid to interact with women except in a highly artificial formal manner.

How can men make sure their actions are professional and appropriate?
·      Pretend your mother – wife – grandmother – and the TV cameras are watching you.
·      Don’t get over-friendly. We want equality – but we aren’t one of the boys.
·      Clean up your language – and your jokes – and your comments about our looks
·      Don’t touch – ok to shake hands.

About Dr. ArLyne Diamond
Dr. ArLyne Diamond ( is an internationally recognized Leadership, Management, Professional Development, and Organizational Development consultant specializing in people and processes in the workplace. As the President and Founder of her consulting firm, Diamond Associates,Dr. Diamond's clients range from boards of directors and upper management to support staff in many industries, both public and private.

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