Charlotte Proudman, you are my new hero. Good for you for calling out the Big Law partner who thought “complimenting” you on your photo was a great way to begin a conversation:
Baby Boomers take note. Millennial women will not put up with comments like this. They have been raised to believe that they are equal in every way to the “adults” in their lives. And they have no problems speaking up and out.
If the partner in question had just bothered to look at Ms. Proudman’s Twitter profile, he would have been well warned to keep his comments to himself:
When I was coming up in the working world, pre-Anita Hill, GenX and Boomer women did not have the terminology (sexual harassment), the tools (HR departments), and the laws (thank you, very much) to aid us when faced with a man 20+ years our age making rude comments, suggestions, and threats.
When we spoke up we were fired. And that was that.
Having a trailing edge Millennial daughter, I can honestly say, “Wow” and “Look out.”
Well educated gentlemen, the rules have changed. Just talk to any teen-aged girl about “rape culture” and you will be schooled in ways that will make your BS, MBA, JD, PhD certificates not worthy of the frames that hang them on the walls of your offices.
And if you think women like me are blowing this out of proportion, and are just too sensitive or serious, just take a look at the anonymous comments (here and here) from LAWYERS attacking Ms. Proudman for being a “feminist” and for her speaking out about the incident and “shaming” the partner in question.
This is nothing more than a “blame — or shame — the victim” mentality (she shouldn’t post a picture if she doesn’t want comments) that is beyond disturbing. My personal favorite from “Bobby”:
We have come so far, yet really, we haven’t. For any male lawyer who is wondering why Ms. Proudman is so offended by having her photo praised as “stunning,” please walk down the hall and ask any woman over 40 about the first time she was sexually harassed in the work place.
For me, I was 23-years old working at a restaurant to help pay my way through college. Players from the local professional football team would come in and hang out at our bar after training practice.
One Friday night, with a full station of tables working, my manager told me that “Mr. NFL player” at the bar would like me to join him. I was confused, as I was “working.” My manager told me not to worry about my tables, that he thought it was a very good idea for me to go join the player. I told him no. I wasn’t raised that way and went about my work.
I was fired that week.
That was my first story, but not my last.
And if you’re thinking, “But that was in 1988; that doesn’t happen any more.” Um, yes it does.
I was just recanting a story of the senior partner, after a major client meeting, leaning over in the limousine and kissing the associate. She did not return to the firm. He did. That did occur in this millennium.
While I am sure the big law partner does not need any more shaming (the British tabloids have picked up the story), the lessons obviously still need to be learned.
If we truly want diversity, and women in leadership roles in law firms, then we need to be seen and treated, in public and private, as the equal professionals we are.