Facebook Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg says that male executives who follow “Pence rule,” and refuse to dine alone with female colleagues, should avoid eating with male colleagues as well.
The rule is named for Vice President Mike Pence, who in 2002 said he will not attend events where alcohol is being served without his wife by his side, and will not have dinner alone with a woman other than his wife.
Pence was mocked when the “rule” first emerged. But in the wake of the #metoo movement, men throughout the workforce are beginning to see his point.
According to SiliconValley.com, “nearly half of male managers say they’re uncomfortable participating in a work activity such as mentoring or socializing with women, according to a survey conducted this year by LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey” in response to sexual harassment allegations. SiliconValley.com also noted that “[a] higher percentage of male managers is also uncomfortable working with a women or mentoring them.”
Sandberg responded by demanding that men who follow the “Pence rule” apply it to everybody. “If you insist on following it, adopt a revised version,” she wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday. “Don’t want to have dinner alone with a female colleague? Fine. But make access equal: no dinners alone with anyone. Breakfast or lunches for all. Or group dinners only, nothing one-on-one. Whatever you choose, treat women and men equally.”
Sandberg also argued that placing more women positions of power would decrease sexual harassment in the workplace, writing, “We also need to focus on getting more women into positions of power. A more equal world would be a better world, with stronger companies, economies, and families. And yes, with less sexual harassment, which is less prevalent when women lead.”
Also on Tuesday, Sandberg announced that her nonprofit organization, LeanIn.Org, had launched a campaign called “#MentorHer,” which urges men to mentor female colleagues.
[#MentorHer] urges men to step up and use their power to support women in the workplace, with research-backed information for why mentorship matters and tips for how to be an effective mentor to women. People with mentors are more likely to get promotions – yet women are less likely than men to be mentored, and women of color get the least support of all. If we’re going to change the power imbalance that enables so much sexual harassment in the first place, we need to ensure women get more mentorship and sponsorship, not less. That’s how we get the stretch assignments that lead to promotions. That’s how we build the networks that put us on the path to exciting opportunities. That’s how we get the respect – and recognition – we deserve.
Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington echoed Sandberg’s sentiments on Tuesday, tweeting, “3x as many male managers are now uncomfortable mentoring women in the wake of
#MeToo. This is a huge step in the wrong direction. We need more men to #MentorHer.”