Because Wall Street is, even more than most, a business of glad-handing and personal relationships, the net effect of this approach is women being further excluded from career advancement because wealthy leaders who are totally not perverts, how could you think that, are a-feared to be in the same room with them. Which is, I think we all can agree, an unsurprising outcome. If Congress has taught us anything, it is that avoiding sexual harassment is almost impossibly difficult when confronted with a wimmenfolk of the opposite sex. One minute you've pulled someone aside to ask them to conceive your baby and make sure they understand it would have to be done the old-fashioned way; the next thing you know you're getting written up for stepping over some invisible line about baby-having that, as far as you know, was invented only last Tuesday.
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.
It is a crying shame, and the richest people in America don't have a damn clue what to do about it, so they're all quivering like Brett Kavanaugh when someone tries to serve him a non-alcoholic beer.
My own suggestion, patent pending? What if we build on the Cone of Silence idea from Get Smart to create a full-body plexiglass tube? It could be mounted on a Segway, so it would be fully mobile; your company's top menfolk could all conduct meetings, organize portfolios, and mingle for after-work drinks in their own private transparent tubes. Patent pending. Oh, but given the penchant of some menfolk to make crude gestures or, as in the case of certain network hosts, accidentally drop their pants in business settings, the tubes could not be transparent; they would have to be opaque. And, definitely, soundproof.
You know what? Just for safety's sake, we ought to also make them airtight. Patent pending. All of Wall Street could conduct its business from within roaming, opaque, soundproof, airtight full-body tubes, patent pending, and the top corporate offices of America would be transformed overnight from dens of weird perversions and inappropriate pants-dropping to the rough equivalent of an old, boring Windows screensaver. There is absolutely no fault in this plan, and if it would save ten dollars and a lawsuit, there's not a tony Wall Street firm in existence that wouldn't go for it immediately.
It's either that or convince Wall Street business tycoons to not be perverts at work, and I think we all know which of these two outcomes is more likely to happen. Patent pending.
Mind you, there are a few outliers who believe the problem can be solved without diving under a desk whenever you see someone of the opposite sex or without encasing every worker in opaque, soundproof, mobile business coffins. These revolutionaries would have their cohorts believe that a solution is not just within reach, but is effervescently simple:
Finally, [an investment adviser who manages about 100 employees] landed on the solution: “Just try not to be an asshole.” That’s pretty much the bottom line, said Ron Biscardi, chief executive officer of Context Capital Partners. “It’s really not that hard.”
That would be the Don’t Be An Asshole plan, a revolutionary new business approach that will, no doubt, be turned into at least three bestselling corporate management books between now and next summer.
We shall see if that works out. If not, O panicking luminaries of Wall Street’s topmost floors, give me a ring.