Investment Firm Accused of Being Hostile to Women

Me Too

A current employee of a leading investment firm has filed suit against the business, claiming that it's a toxic environment for women.

As the New York Times reports, the suit is against Point72 Asset Management, an $11 billion firm with more than 1,000 employees run by Steven A. Cohen, a billionaire investor.

The plaintiff, Lauren Bonner,  called the firm a "boys' club" where men made comments about women's bodies, belittled them, and paid them less than men.

Adult women with years of experience were allegedly called "girls" and excluded from "men only" meetings.

According to the suit, less than 3% of the  managing directors at the firm are women. Only one of the firm's 125 portfolio  managers is a woman, and no women sit on the firm's hiring and executive committees.

The firm denied the allegations.

Passed Over

Bonner claims that she was passed over for several promotions, and that the jobs went to men with less experience.  She also claims that men in the same position earned at least twice as much as she did,

A recent Times article questions whether companies have made real progress in combatting sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

The phrase "Me Too" was promoted by social activist Tarana Burke in 2006  and initially used to share experiences of sexual abuse among women of color on the Myspace social network.

The "#MeToo" hashtag went viral in October, 2017 in the wake of sexual harassment and assault allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. It is now used to highlight sexual harassment and assault against women (and men) of all races.

"Time's Up" is a movement to combat sexual harassment and abuse and to promote gender parity in pay — specifically in the entertainment industry and more generally across the economy.

Going on the Offensive

As the Times notes,

Corporate boards and investors from Wall Street to Silicon Valley are going on the offensive, probing for problems to avoid being surprised. Entrepreneurs are developing apps and programs to help victims discover if their harassers have targeted others. Women in entertainment, advertising and other industries are demanding fundamental shifts, including more females in leadership roles.

But spotlighting the problems has shown how pervasive they are, and how hard they may be to combat.

According to the Times,

Harassment has flourished in part because structures intended to address it are broken: weak laws that fail to protect women, corporate policies that are narrowly drawn and secret settlements that silence women about abuses.

Those secret settlements often include NDAs, as I wrote about in this recent blog.

While  many of the woman challenging workplace harassment and discrimination are higher-profile and higher-income, the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund was funded with $21 million in donations to help low-income workers fight for their rights in court.

According to CNN, the Legal Defense Fund has already taken on more than 1,000 cases.

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