Wednesday 26 February 2020 4:50 am

DEBATE:Has the #MeToo movement had a meaningful positive impact on women in the workplace?

Sheila Flavell CBE is chief operating officer at FDM Group.
Emily Carver
Emily Carver is media manager at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Has the #MeToo movement had a meaningful positive impact on women in the workplace?

Sheila Flavell CBE, chief operating officer at FDM Group, says YES.

The #MeToo movement has elevated a wider debate about the way women are treated within businesses and industries on a global scale. This week’s conviction of Harvey Weinstein not only provides justice for his victims, but also underlines the fact that those in power are accountable and will face consequences for their actions.

Moving forward, it is vital that issues such as equality, closing the gender pay gap, and embracing diversity are a top priority in boardrooms across the UK and beyond, and that women are treated with respect at all times within the workplace. The next generation of female entrepreneurs must be empowered through a culture of fairness that ensures they are given all the support they need to thrive.

Chief executives and industry leaders need to do much more to ensure that their organisations recognise that the #MeToo era marks a substantial change in the way companies operate, introducing new policies to tackle negative behaviour and upholding the highest standards of working practices.

Emily Carver, media manager at the Institute of Economic Affairs, says NO.

The excesses of the #MeToo movement have inadvertently set workplace relations backwards. Research shows that men are now more hesitant to work closely with their female co-workers — according to a survey by Lean In, 40 per cent of male managers are uncomfortable interacting with female colleagues one-one-one.

This regression is hardly conducive to women climbing the career ladder, and may well reduce opportunities for women at work, particularly around mentorship.

Instead of improving gender relations, the extreme sect has driven a wedge between the sexes and led to over-regulation of behaviour. The results would be funny if they weren’t so horrifying — think of Netflix banning film crew staff from looking at each other for more than five seconds.

Men are frequently left out of the conversation, which has led in some cases to an overcorrection in their behaviour. Coupled with the fear of false accusations, #MeToo has damaged, not improved, life for women in work.

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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