It appears business believes they have a special dispensation from the effects of Newton’s Third Law. You can’t get around it though. That old crafty law is always operating, whether companies or leaders—or even you—want it to or not.
Let’s follow the trail of this law weaving its way through the unrest, dissatisfaction, and resentment building in women executives as they’ve been unable to obtain equal ground in the marketplace.
Through the years, women have attempted to make their mark by assuming more male-like attitudes—no noticeable results with this approach. They endeavored to be valued team players though rarely did they gain victory on that front either. Women took on working harder and longer hours, but that only dug them deeper into low-level work. Women have watched men achieve positions they hoped for, only to be told how they do their work was holding them back rather than to be measured on the results they create as men are.
In fact, LeanIn and SurveyMonkey report 66 percent of a women’s performance evaluation comments were on style; whereas less than 1 percent of men received behavior comments. This statistic isn’t unexpected when many senior managers still seem stuck in archetypal thinking of “women take care” whereas men “take charge.”
While the top leaders of a company profess the need for equality yet as Catalyst illustrates, the statistics for women at the top haven’t shifted dramatically—with a slight decrease reflected between 2017 and 2018.
Along with women feeling they’ve been held back in their workplace, many have been harassed and taken advantage of by more powerful men in their organization.
Is it any wonder the unexpected consequence of all of this negative energy was the #MeToo movement?
The domino effect of this feminine outcry is high-profile, high-powered men in entertainment, education, media, business, politics, sports, and technology have been brought down. There is no doubt this charge has created a massive shift ousting 201 powerful men. So far, nearly half of the filled positions were by women.
The unexpected consequences are still reverberating throughout the marketplace, so we don’t know the long-term results. But let’s take a peek at one of the fallouts. The recent LeanIn research brings to light 60 percent of male managers in the US are afraid of having a one-on-one meeting with a woman in 2019 a giant step back from 2018’s 28 percent.
As Sheryl Sandberg admits: “Women are in a bad place. No one’s ever gotten promoted without a one-on-one meeting—I feel confident of that!”
Additionally, of concern to women intending to move up in their organization, the senior managers say: They’re
• nine times more likely to hesitate traveling for business with a woman;
• six times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner with a woman.
Wow! The unconscious consequence of these statistics has a massive impact on both genders. For men, because they don’t only manage women, but also report to female bosses and have customers who are women. The big, hairy question for them is: Who do I need to be moving forward? And for women, it’s evident that the road to the top has narrowed yet again. The big, hairy question for them is: How do I breakthrough yet another layer of barriers, so the power players in my company know me?
Even as we follow this thread through the machinations of our organization, the lesson is every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Don’t leap without calibrating your decision as well as whether you’re ready to handle the cost or not.