Understanding the #MeToo phenomenon
Rana Foroohar and Gillian Tett discuss the wave of sexual harassment allegations that have come to light in recent months
I'm Rana Foroohar, associate editor and global business columnist at the Financial Times. And I'm here with my hashtag girl boss, Gillian Tett, US managing editor of the FT. And we're here to talk about the me-too movement. So Gillian, I'm going to start and just ask you, why is this happening now?
Well, it's one of the most unexpected developments in 2017. And to my mind, there are two factors. One is political. What we're seeing is, essentially, a backlash against the Trump administration, which is also being coupled with the fact that the departure of the Clintons has made it much easier for Democrats to talk about some aspects, too. Secondly, though, the big issue is technology. The use of social media, the use of the hashtag me-too, has really not only enabled women to collect together. It's given them a voice and sense of bravery in calling out.
That's interesting. Do you see - can you draw a direct line between, say, the Arab Spring, use of social media, me-too, and what might be coming next. I mean, what's the next stage in this?
I do think we're seeing traditional power structures challenged, because essentially people feel enabled to question the status quo and to band together. It's very striking. I do also think, though, there's a risk of a that essentially these kind of revolutions and movements can spin out of control. And one of the things that I know you've been concerned about, Rana, is whether we are actually seeing due process being respected.
Yeah. It's interesting, I wrote a piece for the Weekend FT looking at the culture wars on campus. And gender is a part of that. Race is a part of that. You are seeing a very vocal sort of far left group of students protesting against teachers that are teaching ideas they don't agree with. And a lot of academics I know are concerned about this. There are due process issues. It's also important to get the stuff out there.
I feel like we need to create more baskets for what we're talking about here. In a way, hashtag me-too has power because it's a broad movement. But should we be putting sexual predators in one basket, bad workplace behaviour in another basket? How do we start sorting this through? Is this a natural process that's going to happen organically?
I agree with that. There is a danger, always, of a witch- hunt. And certainly some terrible things have happened that need to be acted on. The question in my mind now, though, is are we going to see this hashtag me-too movement morph into something a little bit more sophisticated that tries to differentiate between different types of male behaviour. And also, are we going to see it move beyond just the media world and to a degree, the political world. And start to, say, finance or other areas of business too?
Well and you did a column recently looking at why there aren't more women in economics, where there are women in economics. Tell us a little about that.
Well, there's certainly an issue that, you know, the hashtag me-too movement has simply come as one aspect of a bigger gender debate that's going on. And what we are seeing is people questioning all over the place what's happening in gender terms. The issue with economics and finance certainly is very lopsided. One would hope that, as we have this debate about the hashtag me-too, that people start questioning the fundamental patterns which have given rise to this imbalance. And start talking about it more.
Well it's interesting, too, you know, it's all about cognitive diversity, right? Just getting people in to companies that think differently. That's something I know every CEO is thinking about. So I'm sure we'll hear more about it.
And it's certainly going to be top of the agenda for a lot of the CEOs, and any leader in 2018 is going to have to address this issue.
Thanks for viewing.