The Sum — Dismantling to Rebuild

The Sum of this week is dismantling to rebuild.

Feminist academic Audre Lorde is famous for having written: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

It’s a quote often shared in movement spaces, but in the wake of this #metoo uprising, there is a more relevant question to be asked: Once the house begins to dismantle, then what?

Imagine this scenario: At the company where you work a man has been fired for sexual harassment. After work, you and a number of women identified colleagues go out to happy hour to process his dismissal.

The big elephant in the room stomps its feet as a question is asked by one of the women: how many in the group have experienced work based sexual harassment?

WOMAN ONE admits she left her last job because of a creepy boss. He never explicitly harassed or assaulted her but she never felt quite at ease with his innuendoes and the way he looked at her. No, she didn’t report him. Actually she hadn’t known quite what to do except leave. She loved the job (and the pay) but hated the uncomfortable environment.

WOMAN TWO nods and says that she asked for a transfer to a different department for the same reason. Even though it was a lateral move that had a negative impact on her career trajectory in the company, she felt she had to get out. She is currently trying to figure out whether to start looking elsewhere or to have a conversation with her mentor about how to get back onto the path she wanted without having to go back to her previous department.

WOMAN THREE says this is why she put in her notice and decided to become a Pilates instructor. She’ll make less money, sure, but she feels liberated.

Who said we can’t be our own Wonder Women?

WOMAN FOUR retorts that she identifies with the men, and feels sorry for them. And anyway, victims never win, and so much talk about harassment makes women all seem like victims. HR is useless, so don’t count on them to help. Women just have to get tougher. Don’t put out a vibe of vulnerability or openness to sex if you don’t want it.

WOMAN FIVE sighs in relief and agrees with Woman Four. Making a big public deal out of it makes matters worse, she adamantly pushes. It doesn’t change men’s behavior, but it might mean they won’t hire women no matter how good you are at your job. It certainly reinforces the bias against women.

WOMAN TWO says upset, “This conversation has made me decide that I’ll start my own business. You know I’ve had my side hustle for a year, and I am going to go for it full bore. I’ll borrow some money and just do it.”

WOMAN FOUR laughs, “And who do you think you are going to borrow that money from? Men control most of the venture firms, banks, and other institutions. And what about when you go to rent an office or negotiate terms with prospective employees or vendors. Do you think you will be able to live in an all-female world? Not likely.”

And herein lies the question women are exploring in the midst of #metoo: what do we do now?

We tackle and answer these questions in my February 4, 2018 online course POWER TO LEAD: 9 LEADERSHIPPOWERTOOLS TO ADVANCEYOURCAREERbecause sexual harassment is about power…not sex.

Power looks, feels, and displays itself in certain ways and it is critical to gain insights and tools to understand power dynamics (whether through implicit bias, overt sexual harassment, etc.).

In the POWER TO LEADONLINE COURSE, you will redefine power and develop practical and actionable skills to navigate, communicate, and negotiate to get what you want from your workspace.

This is a course about leadership and power, and in understanding power dynamics you can make decisions about your career from a place of power…not fear. And you’ll get a whole new box of tools to use not just to dismantle the old, but to build a newer, better, healthier culture.

The #metoo movement has helped us see even more clearly how important a role power plays in whether you succeed or not in your career.

POWER TO LEAD will enable you to embrace your power TO define your own terms at work and in life, thrive in the world as it is and give you the tools to create the world you want.

It is truly life-changing. I want so much to see you there because I can’t wait to share all of this with you.

Register before January 1, 2018 to enjoy our holiday special!

TAKETHE LEAD prepares, develops, inspires and propels women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025. It’s today’s women’s movement — a unique catalyst for women to embrace power and reach leadership parity. Join us online, sign up for our newsletter and have insightful news and advice delivered weekly, and check out our Virtual Happy Hour, our leadership programs and other offerings.