I have spent my career covering Silicon Valley, not Wall Street. I am happy to call BS all day long on the former, but admit I’m no expert on the latter. And yet, we’ve all noticed that Wall Street—the most cartoonish ecosystem for over the top sexism—has been the most eerily quiet during the #metoo movement.
From Vanity Fair last February on why: “With so many stories of sexual harassment spanning decades, why aren’t the women on Wall Street leading the #MeToo charge? An obvious answer: the money. Wall Streeters often have a great deal of money tied up in their firms in the form of stock, and they usually have to sign non-disclosure agreements, either as a condition of employment or to get money when they depart…
But it goes beyond the money. ‘When you are rewarded for toughness there’s a big disincentive…to come forward with a story that would put a dent into your armor,’ writes a current Wall Street woman in an e-mail. ‘That over time becomes identity.’
Among women I spoke to, the fear was often palpable. Fear of being labeled a complainer. Fear of being ostracized. Fear of being fired. I heard current stories that I cannot print, even anonymously, because the women are terrified that someone, somehow, will figure out they talked…
‘The thing that hurt me the most is that fellow women peers and superiors did not have my back,’ says a woman who is currently an unnamed plaintiff in a suit against a large Wall Street firm. ‘Because the price is too high. You spend all these years trying to fit in and this [complaining] is the ultimate standing out. It’s wonderful watching what’s happening in Hollywood, where women are supporting other women, but that did not and does not happen in finance.’”
It shouldn’t always come to the women to be the ones sticking their necks out, but that last point seems the crucial one. It strikes me that the more supportive senior women in an industry have been of women coming forward, the more solidarity they’ve shown, the bigger impact we’ve seen.
Nearly all of the top women in Hollywood linked arms, and Hollywood saw the most men get outed and the greatest results. Silicon Valley was a mixed bag. While a lot of women who’d spent their careers as “fiduciary cool girls” began to identify as feminists, supporting new initiatives like All Raise and Female Founder office hours, there was an eerie industry silence when some of the later accusations came out against VCs like Shervin Pishevar.
And the most senior women in tech weren’t exactly leading the charge. Sheryl Sandberg warned that there could be a #metoo backlash, which—intentionally or not—could have the intention of concern trolling women into silence. Marissa Mayer similarly concern trolled women coming forward saying they might cause the next generation to avoid careers in tech. (You know what really causes women to leave the industry? Um, a culture of totally unchecked misogyny and sexual assault…)
Arianna Huffington may be the worst of all, continuing to carry water for the bro-iest of bros, Travis Kalanick. To paraphrase Madeleine Albright: There’s a special place in hell for women who defend a guy who allegedly obtained medical records of a woman sexually assault using his service with an intention to smear her…
Silicon Valley had its mini-wave of #metoo, but we all know a fraction of the bad actors were exposed.
And Wall Street? Well, as Vanity Fair notes, the senior women there have been even less supportive of those coming forward than in the Valley. Sallie Krawcheck is one of the only senior women regularly and publicly speaking up. And that’s in part because it’s now in her interest: She’s building Ellevest, a woman-owned, women-centric investment firm. She’s happy to let women to know how Wall Street thinks of them, so they’ll invest with her instead.
I don’t say this to shame Wall Street women—the jobs are scarce and the stakes are high. Bloomberg reports today that the best “Wall Street” jobs for women aren’t actually on Wall Street—they’re out here in Silicon Valley.
When Silicon Valley is giving more opportunities to women than your ecosystem…Yikes.
Like I said, I’m no expert on the ins and outs of Wall Street. But Krawcheck sure is, and she’s speaking at our upcoming retreat in a no-holds-barred fireside chat. We’re going to get deeply into this topic, and why we haven’t seen more change in either of our ecosystems. We’re renting an entire town in Northern California, and there won’t be a man to “well, actually” her in sight. There will be top female founders, investors, filmmakers, and more girl power than you can imagine. We’ve got about ten spots left if you need some of that.
Here are our questions of the day:
- My company will pay for training opportunities…any suggestions?
- Can being friends with borderline “bad kids” be a good experience for your kids?
– Sarah Lacy