The era of the #MeToo movement has now produced a response from men, and it’s not the one that most women expected or wanted. Some men are responding with what’s called the “Pence Effect,” named after Vice President Mike Pence, who has said he avoids dining alone with any woman other than his wife.
Women can’t control who adopts the Pence Effect. However, they can control further unexpected consequences of #MeToo while working with men and trying to get ahead in business.
Always dress professionally
One way to avoid any unexpected consequences at work is to pay careful attention to how you dress in the workplace. I’m not advocating blaming the victim, but what I am suggesting is being realistic about what can result from certain actions. Some kinds of clothing can draw attention to women for the wrong reasons. As a professional woman, you don’t want that kind of attention.
In the era of #MeToo you might get another response besides attention: you might experience avoidance from male colleagues. And avoidance is not just about dining—it can also be about work. There are men who won’t want to work with you and who will simply avoid you because they don’t want to appear to be in any situation which could be misunderstood, or that could potentially result in accusations of inappropriate behavior. Some men worry that even telling a female colleague that she looks nice could get them accused of sexual harassment.
Be first to suggest where to meet
Women can set the tone of meetings by making better choices on where to meet and should suggest places that are more public and visible to others, such as glass-walled conference rooms. When visibility isn’t an option, keep the doors open. Including more people in the meeting is another option, although you should be aware of not wasting other people’s time.
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Be careful with after-work activities
Have you ever noticed that the people who get promoted are often the “friends” of the people in power? Those promoted often socialize with management by going out to lunch, golfing together, or socializing after work.
I’m not suggesting that you exclude yourself when the guys go out after work to a bar. You have to recognize that after-work activities are very logical places for people to get to know each other better. These relationships are often the basis of who ends up working well together and who gets promoted. Just don’t be the one suggesting that you go to a bar and don’t go with just one other person.
Watch how personal you get
Workplace relationships don’t suddenly happen; they stem from having common interests and from getting to know one another. How does this happen? Through conversations in which people share interests and talk about their families and other details of their personal lives.
However, there is a balance between letting people get to know you and sharing too much information. Do not share your family troubles at work—that’s sharing too much information. It could also give others the impression that you’re unable to solve problems. So, yes, you can talk about your children, but best to avoid sharing the results of the latest parent-teacher conference in which your child’s success was questioned. And if you’re single, your dating life is simply not appropriate business conversation.
Being successful at work today continues to be a challenge for both men and women. The rules have changed and they will continue to change. I often think if more men and women followed simple etiquette rules, there would be fewer #MeToo problems. I can wish that it happens, but wishing alone doesn’t change things. It’s better for women to be aware and be careful about what they say and do in the workplace.
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The post Advice for Professional Women Who Want to Get Ahead in the #MeToo Era appeared first on AllBusiness.com. Click for more information about Maura Schreier-Fleming.