Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! Yes, even you men. Actually, especially men. We’re counting on you all to lead the way and set a good example for those among you who may not have gotten the memo that women contribute so much more to society than clean dishes. Even something small like recognizing the achievements of your female coworkers or not talking over women in meetings makes a difference. The latter is unfortunately a widespread problem and one that men may not even be aware of because they are regularly the ones doing the interrupting. I can’t say that’s a problem here at Going Concern; I’m consistently talking over my colleague Bramwell and he’d attest to that but he’s not allowed to chime in here. GO WOMEN.
In honor of International Women’s Day and because if there’s one thing we women are good at it’s holding onto grudges and using dumb things said about us against the sayer for all of eternity (that’s a joke btw), I thought now would be a good time to rehash the rules for women in the workplace as told in a sexist training seminar that took place at EY’s Hoboken office as recently as 2018. Or, as it is more widely known, the “pancakes and waffles” incident.
For those who may have missed it, here’s the gist as summarized by my pancake brain last year:
What everyone remembers about this story is not the part where they dedicated a good part of the day to telling grown-ass professional women to do their hair but rather the part where the women attending this seminar — all of whom were women in leadership positions at EY — were told that women’s brains are 6% to 11% smaller than men’s brains, and that “women’s brains absorb information like pancakes soak up syrup so it’s hard for them to focus.” Men are the lucky ones though, their brains are like waffles, where the good stuff melts in and pools in all the little genius nooks and crannies of their big ole brains. Seriously. EY paid someone to say this in a training to 30 of its best and brightest women.
When HuffPo broke the story, EY initially tried to brush it off as being taken out of context in said story until enough news outlets picked up the story and they were forced to copy paste the statement about how [insert naughty thing] doesn’t represent the firm’s values and culture.
As a reward for the blatantly sexist seminar, EY eventually was ordered to pay the state of New Jersey $100,000 for violating the state’s Law Against Discrimination and to establish a $500,000 scholarship program to increase opportunities for employment in the accounting and finance industry for women and other populations underrepresented in the industry.
At the seminar, women attendees were asked to score themselves on masculine and feminine traits and told that for women to be successful in the workplace, they should keep in mind that men and women both will strongly judge a woman with too many points on the masculine side.
The attendee who spoke to HuffPo provided a few more suggestions made in the training:
- Don’t directly confront men in meetings, because men perceive this as threatening. (Women do not.) Meet before (or after) the meeting instead.
- If you’re having a conversation with a man, cross your legs and sit at an angle to him. Don’t talk to a man face-to-face. Men see that as threatening.
- Don’t be too aggressive or outspoken.
Women were also told not to wear flashy jewelry, don’t flaunt your body (“sexuality scrambles the mind,” they heard), try not to have a shrill voice when speaking, and always signal fitness and wellness (ah yes, the cornerstone of public accounting).
So keeping all these things in mind, let’s get out there with our perfectly-coiffed hair and not-too-low-cut blouses and take on the world, ladies!
Oh and btw because someone always asks this on this particular day, the whatabouts will be happy to hear that International MEN’S Day falls on November 19 so go ahead and mark your calendars instead of complaining about a single day meant to acknowledge and uplift women. Let women have things.
Women At Ernst & Young Instructed On How To Dress, Act Nicely Around Men [HuffPost]