UBER. Gender Equality. Respect.

Gender equality and respect were the topics of conversation at a recent Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Conference.  Last October, Leigh Gallagher, Senior Editor at Large at Fortune magazine, interviewed Arianna Huffington. The main stage discussion centered around the lawsuits filed by women against UBER for gender and race discrimination.
Huffington said, “If a company is totally obsessed with growth at the expense of everything else … when growth is the only objective at the expense of everything else, you end up idolizing top performers, and then [they] can get away with anything.” Top performers start to believe they are “beyond any kind of rules.”  Why? They know there will always be people to make excuses for their behavior.  If the top performer (or leader) brings in the cash, they are allowed to behave in any way they choose.


We see this lack of respect of Americans playing out in today’s environment, whether in politics, the media, sports, entertainment, or in the professions. So long as the leader (or top performer) performs, gets you a job, pays your bills, it seems to matter little how they treat you.  There is something so wrong with that picture, yet it is alive and well in 2018.
Why is Harvey Weinstein’s behavior reprehensible, but trump’s is not? Why was Moore’s behavior not acceptable, but trump’s was? Why is Al Franken’s behavior not acceptable, but trump’s is?  Because he put a few extra bucks in your purse?  The more vile and reprehensible his behavior and speech, the more support he garners, especially from women. Who are we? Have we grown so accustomed to disrespectful behavior that if we are paid, it is okay?
If you are a woman working hard to get ahead in your chosen profession, shouldn’t you expect to be treated with respect?  Whether at UBER, the Bellagio, Hollywood, Alabama, Google, New York, or the White House? If your boss creates a hostile work environment, should you be required to tolerate it? Should that egregious hostile behavior be deemed acceptable just because he pays you a salary?  Not much different if you are a married woman and your wealthy husband beats you. Is his behavior to be ignored simply because he provides you with a lavish lifestyle?  Or was it acceptable when a slave owner raped the pretty female slaves, but then allowed one or two to live in the big house?

Have Times Changed?

As women, we worked so hard to get to the place where we have some rights and some respect.  Now, with one brush stroke and one election, all that’s changed. It seems like we have truly turned a corner in history.  Bad, offensive, discriminatory behavior is accepted so long as we get paid.  Tantamount to prostitution, a hooker can tolerate anything as long as the price is right.
I’m Francine Ward attorney, author, lecturer, and proud female American.

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