Please Don't Ask Men About Women's Issues

"Are men really the experts on impediments women face in the workplace?"
02/03/2017 10:59 am ET Updated Feb 03, 2017
photo credit: Michael Vadon Ivanka Trump via photopin (license)

Ivanka Trump is aiding her father in promoting a women’s economic empowerment agenda. To that end, she hosted a dinner party for a number of CEO’s at her home on February 2, 2017 to discuss how to promote women in the workforce.

You might expect these CEOs to be women because who would know better than a woman what impedes a woman’s ability to succeed in the workplace. But alas, few were women. Attendees included Walmart CEO Doug McMillan, Ernst & Young CEO Mark Weinberger, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky, investment banker Abedayo Ogunlesi, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and National Economic Council head Gary Cohn.

So in addition to GM CEO Mary Barra and former Goldman Sachs partner Dina Powell, the other six attendees brainstorming for women’s economic empowerment were men.

Are men really the experts on impediments women face in the workplace? I think not.

If I wanted to learn more about how women are treated unequally in the workplace, I’d ask women. I’d ask women who have not succeeded in rising to the ranks of CEO because they are the ones who have faced discrimination, unequal wages and possibly sexual harassment.

Brainstorming with a group of men who haven’t faced the impediments women have faced in the workforce isn’t likely to yield much information to effect change for women.

What do these male CEO’s know about the difficulties a new mother faces when she can’t afford childcare? They were probably pimply-faced college students working a summer job when they made as little money as the new mom cleaning the worker’s cafeteria at Walmart.

What do these male CEO’s know about being paid 23% less than members of the opposite sex?

What do these male CEO’s know about giving birth and returning to work six weeks later?

What do these male CEO’s know about pumping breast milk in the bathroom on their lunch hour?

So, Ivanka, thank you for paying attention to women’s economic empowerment but next time listen to women talk about women’s issues. Ask the women who have not made it to the top of the corporate ladder for suggestions as to how to improve the opportunities for women to succeed at work.

Women know where improvements need to be made in order for women to succeed in the workforce. As for the male CEO’s, either they don’t know or they know but haven’t cared enough to do anything about it.

Either way, if you ask the wrong people you’ll get the wrong answer.

Ask women. Please.

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