The Challenge of Equal Female Success Absolutely Requires...

...treating women like women and not men, says Avivah Wittenberg-Cox in the Harvard Business Review. Who is Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, you might ask? HBR will be happy to tell you. "Avivah Wittenberg-Cox is CEO of 20-first, one of the world’s leading gender consulting firms, and author of Seven Steps to Leading a Gender-Balanced Business."

Given how extremely vague the suggestions in the article are, I take it that she wrote the piece largely to scare up business for herself. Businesses (like everyone) are scrambling to show that they are taking positive steps to promote diversity, especially on matters of sex and race (though not East Asian races). Here she's telling you that everything the industry's been doing is wrong, and that if you want to show you're really serious, you should take her unspecified advice. She doesn't even have a position on whether the differences she's promising to help you transcend are innate or not. Good luck applying what you learned in this article.

If you'd like specified advice, no problem: she has a "leading gender consulting firm" ready to sell you as much consulting as you can pay for. You'll learn how to treat women differently, so as to encourage them to be successful. Her standard of measure is zero-sum -- the percentage of partners by sex in major firms -- so presumably the changes brought about by this consulting are going to come at the expense of the men you employ. So how do you avoid sex discrimination lawsuits? Insisting on disparate impact standards as the measure of fairness? You're going to have explicitly different treatment by sex designed to discriminate in favor of one sex.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

First sentence, second paragraph: bingo. I don't think you need to make it any more complicated. It might work, too. Companies are always thinking in PR and legal terms, not absolute-innocence terms. If they hire her, and then are accused, they have both a legal and a PR credential that they were trying to do the right thing. That is gold.

The reality has very little to do with this.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Further, I might do the same thing myself, were I running a business. What can I do do protect myself? I can hire a company like hers.

douglas said...

Yeah, this social activist driven businesses are essentially mafia- 'nice little business you have there, it's be a shame if you were unprotected and someone brought a sex/gender discrimination lawsuit...'

That's the game, isn't it?

E Hines said...

So how do you avoid sex discrimination lawsuits? Insisting on disparate impact standards as the measure of fairness?

Of course. Men being turned down in favor of women is sex discrimination. Disparate impact is the law of the DoJ, and the disparity is one of the proofs of the discrimination.

The Supreme Court, in its evolving handling of the racist and sexist affirmative action as practiced by universities, is beginning to recognize the pernicious dishonesty of that particular rule.

Wear it out.

And elect, repeatedly, representatives who will repeal disparate impact and require merit-based proof of discrimination.

Eric Hines