Doesn’t it seem like every step forward is a half step backward for American career women? Consider these stats. In 2016, the percentage of women CEOs working in Fortune 500 companies dropped to an all-time low of 4%, that is within 500 corporations. Of the 29 new companies that joined the Fortune 500 this year, only one has a female CEO: Mary Laschinger of paper products and distribution company Veritiv. Ursula Burns has announced that she will retire as CEO of Xerox XRX when the company splits later this year. As the first black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company, Burns’ departure is a serious loss.
Surprisingly, women CEOs are paid more than their male counterparts. This is partly due to the fact that since they are so rare they demand significantly higher pay. The eight female chief executive officers at the 100 largest companies in the U.S. earned $22 million dollars last year, compared with $14.9 million for the male CEOs. Bliss.
However one reason why women command more money is that corporations are obligated to pay a diversity premium – women still being considered as part of the diversity pool as late as the 21st century. Is that really a step forward? Of course this diversity premium only exists for upper ranking women. Most women in the private sector on average still make significantly less pay than men.Most women are in entry level or clerical jobs. And 96% of executives are still men.
What does this have to do with Trump. Well, considering he is the most powerful and presumably most influential businessman and politician in America at the moment, he is setting precedents all over the country. Consider his public attack on Megyn Kelly, Fox News moderator, wherein he claimed she had blood coming out of her eyes, out of her wherever. Let’s examine that crass statement a little more closely. Kelly is a prominent media figure and executive employee at Fox. Trumps attack had nothing to do with her argument. Instead he chose to attack her female reproductive organs, as if that carried any merit in his crude response. Had he been addressing Roger Ailes do you suppose he would have attacked his sperm count? Highly doubtful.
Trumps refers to women as fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals. He insisted a woman who was breastfeeding during one of his rallies to leave the arena, telling her she was disgusting. He stated that Cathy Fiorinas face would discourage people from voting for her (has Trump ever taken a close look at himself)? Perhaps the coup de grace for professional women happened on his reality TV show Celebrity Apprentice, when Trump quipped about a female contestant, “Must be a pretty picture, seeing you drop to your knees. When the president of the United States has the sick audacity to publicly stereotype women as sex objects in the work force, imply we are ruled by our emotions since we have blood coming out of ôur wherever and make countless misogynistic comments throughout his campaign, this simply doesn’t bode well for women in corporate America.
Surely sanity will rule in professional organizations. Its leaders won’t turn to Trump as an example for how to (mis) treat its female employees, will they? Will Trumps harmless locker room talk (all in fun) prevail during corporate meetings while women shift uncomfortably in their seats? We’ve had to tolerate a lot of criticism and outright verbal abuse as we’ve struggled our way up the corporate ladder and in some organizations broken precious few glass ceilings. Will we have to act like good sports and ignore the verbal vomit that might be defended by male colleagues as locker room talk or merely reiterating (with an innocent shrug) the President after watching Fox news (pun)?
Worse, will the percentage of women hires and promotions in corporate America decrease along with women’s status and respect? Companies talk a good line about hiring without prejudice and ensuring that minorities and women are given equal opportunity. Has that been the case in your workplace? Many companies already entertain the beliefs that:
- men are more qualified for the job (“A woman couldn’t manage our male personnel, they won’t acknowledge her authority!”);
- They find men easier to work with (“She won’t fit into our corporate culture!”— i.e. “we’ll find it uncomfortable having our project management meetings at Hooters!”)
- They believe women will be have issues related to pregnancy/childcare/feminine health that will prevent them from being good employees (“If we hire a woman, she’ll be out sick every month,-( bleeding from her wherever) – and then quit in two years to have a baby!”)
You’re probably thinking that cant happen to you. Human Resources wont allow it. Too many lawsuits will result from that type of misogyny in the workforce. Consider that people said Trump wouldn’t win the election…. but he did.
How did this happen? the media has demanded about Trump’s presidential win.