For more than a year now, American culture has been dealing with the catharsis of the #MeToo movement.
After scores of powerful men have been laid low by revelations of troubling sexual behavior towards women both in and outside professional settings, it feels like no corner of our nation has been left untouched by the sweeping societal shift that is making us increasingly aware that we are way overdue in rethinking how men and women should interact in a modern, self-conscious era.
Like any moment of growth, the #MeToo era has been painful but necessary, and it's laudable that everyone seems to be so on board.
Right, the World of Finance?
No more dinners with female colleagues. Don’t sit next to them on flights. Book hotel rooms on different floors. Avoid one-on-one meetings.
In fact, as a wealth adviser put it, just hiring a woman these days is “an unknown risk.” What if she took something he said the wrong way?
Across Wall Street, men are adopting controversial strategies for the #MeToo era and, in the process, making life even harder for women.
See? They get it.
Interviews with more than 30 senior executives suggest many are spooked by #MeToo and struggling to cope. “It’s creating a sense of walking on eggshells,” said David Bahnsen, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley who’s now an independent adviser overseeing more than $1.5 billion.
And if a Woke-ass bro like noted political centrist David Bahnsen can't wrap his head around the best way to handle the ramifications of #MeToo, what hope do other older wealthy men who intestinally fear change have?
Maybe Bloomberg is overdoing it, men on Wall Street are probably just playing it a little safe and this is just another anti-money sentiment from another socialist media organization...
A manager in infrastructure investing said he won’t meet with female employees in rooms without windows anymore; he also keeps his distance in elevators. A late-40-something in private equity said he has a new rule, established on the advice of his wife, an attorney: no business dinner with a woman 35 or younger.
The changes can be subtle but insidious, with a woman, say, excluded from casual after-work drinks, leaving male colleagues to bond, or having what should be a private meeting with a boss with the door left wide open.
Safety first, you guys. There's no scientific proof that every person working on Wall Street without a Y chromosome is organically programmed to ruin her male colleagues' careers by insidiously tempting them into overt sexual harassment, but why risk it? After all, who's more risk-averse than an infrastructure investor? It makes total psychological sense that you would bet huge amounts of capital on massive construction projects and municipal bonds and then stand five feet from a woman in an elevator lest your hand become somehow inexplicably magnetized to her ass.
It's not like people who market their decision-making prowess to pull in hundreds of billions of dollars that they manage for mindbogglingly high fees should be asked to evince acceptable social behavior on a daily basis. It's much better that the finance sector continues to assume vast sums of money will flow into it while it locks itself away even higher up in a perceived ivory tower with a newly-installed "No Girlz" sign hung on the door. What could be the long-term downside of that trade now that women are making their voices heard?
“Women are grasping for ideas on how to deal with it, because it is affecting our careers,” said Karen Elinski, president of the Financial Women’s Association and a senior vice president at Wells Fargo & Co. “It’s a real loss.”
If an executive at Wells Fargo can identify an external problem through the miasma of the bank's own perma-nightmares, it must be something glaring.
Wow. It almost feels as if treating women like vampiric grifters in response to their movement for equality is not the best look for powerful men in finance.