Women are making their way onto corporate boards. They are working in top jobs in Silicon Valley. They are heading up major departments in hospitals and becoming deans of universities. They are networking in ways they have never done so in the past, giving each other business, making introductions and investing in each other's companies.
So with all women are accomplishing, are we to believe "boys club" business environments still exist?
I would like to be in denial. I think most women, and many men, would like to be in denial as well. But the headlines force us to think otherwise.
Today's headline is the latest example. South Florida tech firm, Magic Leap, has settled a lawsuit with Tannen Campbell, who says she was brought in by the CEO to make the company less of a "boys club." Yet, her mission didn't go well. In a lawsuit, she claimed that Magic Leap's top management did not include females and the company ignored efforts to hire more women were met with resistance. Even worse, she claimed that the corporate culture is one of "macho bullying" where women's work and ideas are ridiculed openly and their opinions ignored in favor of those of their male counterparts.
Campbell reached a confidential settlement in her gender bias lawsuit this week. Still, the details of the suit gave the public a glimpse into the inner workings of a cutting-edge technology company and a corporate culture that frankly, turns my stomach, and frankly prohibits this company from reaching greatness.
I'm not just tossing out some "I am woman, hear me roar" rhetoric. The facts speak louder than I do.
The study on gender diversity by Marcus Noland, Tyler Moran, and Barbara Kotschwar for the Peterson Institute for International Economics released in 2016 says there is a positive correlation between the presence of women in corporate leadership and performance "in a magnitude that is not small." The study found that having a woman in an executive position leads to better performance, with the more women the better.
Yet, even as research shows companies perform better when they include women in leadership, we continually learn of workplaces where men don't want to include them -- at least not at the higher levels.
The Magic Leap lawsuit is merely the latest. A year ago (May 2016), a senior female fixed-income banker at Bank of America Corp. filed a lawsuit accusing the bank of underpaying her and other women, and retaliating when she complained about illegal or unethical practices by her colleagues. She also accused the bank of condoning bias by her boss that made her feel unwelcome in his “subordinate ‘bro’s club’ of all-male sycophants.” Then in November, a former employee of Citigroup accused that bank of being a “boys’ club” that paid women like her less, denied her equal opportunities for promotion, and then penalized her for speaking up about potential gender discrimination.
I don't know the validity of these lawsuits, I just know they exist. I also know that Glassdoor.com, a website that encourages employee reviews, is littered with employee claims that all types of businesses have leadership teams and corporate cultures that reflect "boys clubs."
So even while I want to be in denial, I can't. The boys club thinking that existed decades ago remains intact in some workplaces. But it doesn't have to continue.
We change it by challenging it in court, by taking our business elsewhere, by telling the men in our lives that it wrong to be a part of it, by encouraging women to speak up when they see it happening, by making the business case for promoting women into leadership and by pointing out the consequences and the effect on morale when women are excluded.
It's unlikely we will eliminate these "boys clubs" completely. But by acknowledging they exist and vowing to work toward change, we are on our way to making a difference.