Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I've Changed My Mind

In my last post, I argued that the best way to eliminate sexism in the workplace is to put 100% of the power in the hands of the women and have a one-strike-you're-out policy for the men.

I've changed my mind. I debated this for a few days and I must admit this solution is something I've considered viable for some time. I argued myself into a corner with, um, myself, a few hours ago. I think the blanket policy would result in more sexism, not less.

First off, my initial logic. The best corporate policy is a policy that can be applied broadly and quickly with little thought from those doing the applying. A "one strike" policy seemed easy. And while I still think this policy would work if the head of the company is involved with day-to-day operations and employees can go directly to him/her, the larger a company gets, the more you have people who control large portions of the company who are also under the purview of the policy.

This results in a whole slew of problems.
  • The low-level executives will actively mold the areas of the company they manage to minimize exposure to the policy, by, for example, hiring all men or all women.
  • In team-based work, where the teams are frequently formed dynamically based on required work, males would avoid teams with females on them.
  • Mean or vindictive women could use the policy as a tool to manipulate men, resulting in a brain drain of men from the company. At first, I thought this would be a short-lived problem early in the policy, but the reputation could be long-lived.
  • In an attempt to avoid contact with women, men would choose to work with other men, even if the end work would have been inferior to work done with a female coworker. I thought requirements on performance would simply force men to be good little workers, but if those requirements can be met with another male, there is no impetus to exceed expectations with a superior, female employee, resulting in a performance ceiling.
There are other problems, but you get the idea. My blanket policy wouldn't work.

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