A woman who applied for a job at a Michigan boutique store outed its boss for calling her ‘not that cute’ in an accidental email

TikTok user exposes hiring manager after sexist comment
Gracie Lorincz, 21, made a TikTok video about an email she accidentally received from the VP of Operations at Ava Lane Boutique in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

  • A girl who applied for a job at a Michigan boutique store outed its boss for calling her “not that cute” in an email.
  • In a viral TikTok video, Gracie Lorincz said she was hurt after receiving the email accidentally.
  • The owners of the store apologized on Facebook Live and said they’re receiving online abuse.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A hiring manager at a beauty boutique in Auburn Hills, Michigan, has publicly apologized after a prospective employee outed him for saying she shouldn’t be interviewed because she was “not that cute,” according to the New York Post.

Gracie Lorincz, a 21-year-old recent college graduate, posted a TikTok video on Thursday in which she showed an accidental email sent to her by the vice president of operations of family-owned beauty boutique Ava Lane Boutique.

The email, sent by Chuck DeGrendel, says: “This girl is fresh out of college (Hope College) and not that cute. She applied to the sales model position. Are you sure you want me to interview her?” The email was actually meant for DeGrendel’s wife and co-owner, Laura DeGrendel.

Read more: From ‘vanilla’ skirt suits to ‘too-tight’ shirts: Female lawyers describe how it’s impossible to win when it comes to professional dress codes

Lorincz, who applied for a position as a brand representative, posted a screenshot of the email on TikTok alongside the sarcastic caption: “Feeling amazing.”

The video has since gone viral, amassing more than 1.7 million views at the time of writing.

Watch it below.

On their Facebook group, which has since been set to private, Ava Lane Boutique purports to have built an “amazing community of women who empower each other through positivity and fashion.”

The video sparked backlash online and prompted many angry social media fans to inundate the company’s Google Play page with one-star reviews.

Chuck DeGrendel has since made a tearful apology video on Facebook Live video.

“I sent a reply back to Laura that said that she was a recent college grad, and I didn’t feel that she was that cute, so I wasn’t sure if we wanted to proceed with an interview,” Chuck says in the video. “I don’t know why I said that, but I did, and I’m very, very sorry for saying that because it was very unprofessional and really not in line with our core values here, or my core values in general.”

His wife, Laura, also appeared in the apology video and claimed that the family’s phone numbers and address had been shared and that their children were receiving death threats, the Post reported.

Laura claims Lorincz urged her TikTok followers in the video to make these threats, although there is no mention of this.

Lorincz’s mother, Heather Lorincz, told Fox News that the email made her daughter “feel terrible” and that the Facebook Live apology was not enough.

“She is a sweet kid, she is not an attention hog, she is not a social media personality and didn’t anticipate what this turned into,” Heather said, according to Fox News. “I don’t want this woman’s business to suffer. I don’t. But I feel my daughter deserves a real apology, not a Facebook Live.”

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The history of the rolling suitcase shows how sexism can warp economics

GettyImages 1010631724
Rolling suitcases were seen as the domain of women.

  • A new essay in The Guardian highlights how rolling suitcases were undermined by gender roles.
  • The suitcases were seen as female-coded for years, keeping them out of the mainstream.
  • The anecdote showcases how systemic biases shape our economy.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Today, rolling suitcases are the mainstays of moving sidewalks, duty-free shops, and business commuters pacing while on the phone. But while it’s a no-brainer that rolling a suitcase is easier on your arms than carrying it, they’re still a relatively recent addition to the mainstream.

That’s strange, though, because they’ve been around for a long time.

An essay in the Guardian by Katrine Marçal argues that the product resisted widespread adoption for decades because of sexism. Women were rolling suitcases for decades before the actual product was officially “invented” in 1972, Marçal reports, writing there was an “unmanly” association with the product. It also ran into another gender norm: That men were expected to tote luggage on everyone’s behalf. Luggage wasn’t seen by society as something that should ease travel burdens for women traveling alone, Marçal writes.

Eventually, as Marçal chronicles, solo travel by women became more ubiquitous in the 1980s – and a new design in 1987 somehow made the rolling suitcase safe for men to use, too.

The anecdote showcases how what is seen as the traditional cycle of economics – products meeting demand, and consumers buying them – can’t be separated from perceptions around gender roles and other systemic exclusion. In the case of the rolling suitcase, men went without a more useful device for years, for no reason besides bias. But economic history has more serious repercussions than sore arms from similar instances of prejudice.

For instance, women are about 70% more likely to get seriously injured or die in a car crash, Insider’s Rachel Premack reported in 2019. It may be coincidence, but female crash test dummies weren’t used until 2003, and when American car companies introduced that dummy, she was just five feet tall and weighed 110 pounds.

Beyond automotive safety, many consumer products are designed without women in mind, Nicola Erdmann and Sophia Ankel reported in 2019. For instance, many smartphones are too small for women’s hands – and Apple, which came under particular fire for iPhones being too large, didn’t include a menstrual tracker as part of its health app for several years.

While men can and do use rolling suitcases today, biases can persist in shaping the economy, and who has access to certain products. As Insider’s Isobel Asher Hamilton reported, algorithmic bias goes beyond apps that depixelate people of color’s faces into white faces; leading facial recognition software is less adept at identifying darker faces and female faces. That type of software has been used in policing – a practice that was curtailed in the last year following protests over racist police brutality (and following years of advocacy by activists).

And, while the fashion and clothing industry has somewhat opened the doors in terms of plus-sized fashion, many retailers still opt out of clothing larger bodies – potentially leaving billions on the table.

It makes one wonder, what economic progress is being left behind right now, just because of perception around gender roles?

Read the original article on Business Insider

Women brewers are speaking out against misogynistic and sexist behavior in the beer and craft industry

Screenshot of Instagram exchange.
A screenshot of an Instagram message between a woman and the brewer Brienne Allan.

  • An Instagram user asked women brewers to share their stories of sexism and harassment on the job.
  • Hundreds of accusations surfaced, forcing apologies and resignations from beer companies nationwide.
  • Women brewers talked to Insider about the reckoning and how they’re changing the industry’s culture.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Three years ago, Torie Fisher witnessed a man accost her wife at the Atlantic City Beer Festival. Fisher and her wife are brewers, but the man didn’t believe it.

“There’s no way she’s a brewer,” Fisher said the man yelled in the direction of her wife. He became “visibly irate,” she said, and her teammates had to talk him down.

Fisher served in the Army for 13 years before founding Backward Flag Brewing Co., a veteran- and woman-owned brewery, in 2015. She’s worked there since, along with her wife.

But male patrons and clients who enter the New Jersey establishment neither expect nor believe that Fisher’s an integral part of the business, she said, adding, “It’s never assumed that I’m the owner.”

“I’ve seen somebody come in, get a beer, and shake the hand of one of my bartenders. They said, ‘This is a great place you have here. You must be the owner,'” Fisher said.

She continued, “I got these big, burly guys working back there, and they’ll point to me and say, ‘Well, actually, she’s the owner.'” Fisher said the man replied, “I thought this place was veteran-owned.”

Fisher said that in the nearly six years that Backward Flag has been open, she and other women staff members have experienced sexist and demeaning comments like that one.

A chasm opens

After a brewer asked women on Instagram last week to share sexist comments they’d received from men while on the job, the brewing industry began to react to the widespread allegations of sexism and harassment.

Many of the submitted comments showed encounters similar to Fisher’s.

Brienne Allan, the brewer who asked Instagram users to share their experiences, posted a series of 10 stories highlighting the demeaning comments women brewers said they received daily at their jobs. She received more than 800 responses.

“Me, standing on top of a ladder, a guy from behind the bar, ‘Watch out for that glass ceiling up there,'” one user submitted to Allan’s call.

“The male brewers being professional brewers while I’m just an amateur brewer,” another submission read.

“OK, but where’s the person in charge here? You can’t be it, you’re a woman,” one comment said.

Other submissions detailed harrowing incidents of sexual harassment and assault against women working at various breweries.

“Owner of brewery would drink and try to kiss and grope his female employees on the clock – me included,” a submission read.

“Warehouse coordinator got drunk and told me how hot and sexy I was ‘with tattoos working those tap handles,'” a woman wrote, as seen in one of Allan’s Instagram Stories.

In direct messages to Allan, women called out specific breweries and named men who they said harassed female employees or created a toxic work environment.

After these stories began pouring in, a social-media user gathered about 200 accusations from Allan’s stories and saved them in a public Google spreadsheet, identifying by name the brewery where each alleged incident happened. The document also identified men accused of harassment and assault.

The document is not a comprehensive list of all the accusations and experiences women shared, and it’s unclear who created it.

The accusations have garnered so much momentum that major breweries have responded with apologies. And some men mentioned by name – such as Jacob McKean, the founder and CEO of Modern Times Beer – have resigned.

“I’m sorry that anyone has ever had to face harassment at Modern Times,” McKean said in a statement posted to Twitter. “No one should ever have to be traumatized at work, and it guts me that people have under my watch.” Modern Times, which has locations across the West Coast, was mentioned 18 times in the compiled list of accusations.

Beer and its connection to frat boys

In popular culture, beer is commonly associated with the trappings of masculinity, such as frat houses and football games. But the drink has a long history that involves women-powered capital and labor.

The first-known beer recipe hails from a Sumerian hymn dedicated to the beer goddess Ninkasi, fermented at the time for use in religious ceremonies. Other cultures also honored beer goddesses of their own and created beer dedicated to them.

In the Middle Ages, beer making was believed to be a woman’s work, a process that eventually evolved into a way to bring in extra cash to the household. That’s how the term “alewife” came to be.

Alewives were able to monetize beer and use the profits to support their families. But the Catholic Church, a deep and permeating influence during the Middle Ages, condemned alewives and alehouses, believing both to be extensions of witchcraft and out of bounds with common gender norms.

When the industrial revolution began, alewives slowed down their own beer-making operations because of speedier production methods. And in the mid-20th century, large beer companies such as Budweiser and Heineken began aligning their brands with images of “manliness.” These ads typically depicted housewives pouring tall, foaming growlers of beer for their husbands.

Since then, beer culture has largely been associated with men.

Cayla Marvil, the cofounder of Lamplighter Brewing Co. in Massachusetts, disagreed with the assertion that the drink isn’t for everyone. “Beer is an incredibly accessible beverage, but media does not depict it that way,” she said.

But Marvil is eager to turn that around.

“Breweries can be a really powerful place for social change,” she said. “There’s so much variety to it. It’s not just about crushing pints with your bros at the frat house or whatever it is.”

Marvil said that when patrons come up to her and tell her they don’t like beer, she can usually “find a beer that they’re going to enjoy.”

“I hope that it’s becoming a bit more exciting and accessible for everybody, but media does not depict it that way,” she said.

The masculine connotation that beer carries has a direct effect on how women brewers are treated.

Women brewers who spoke with Insider said they’re regularly asked by patrons whether they themselves enjoy beer or patrons assume that the women around them don’t enjoy beer.

Fisher, for example, said most of her brewery’s patrons are men, some of whom answer for their wives when staff members help with beer selections.

Torie Fisher at Backward Flag Brewing Co.
Torie Fisher at Backward Flag Brewing Co.

“They’ll bring in their wife, and they don’t even give her the ability to speak,” she said. “I see that so often – where I’ll ask the woman what she prefers to drink, and they like to chime in and answer for her: ‘Oh, she doesn’t like beer.'”

“I’ll end up just kind of ignoring them and talking to their wife, and start asking questions,” Fisher continued. “And a lot of times I will find a beer that she likes.”

The public reckoning is forcing breweries to change

On Tuesday, the Brewers Association, a craft-beer trade group made up of thousands of brewers and distributors, sent out an email obtained by Insider inviting its members to engage in a three-part webinar on harassment and sexism in the industry.

The first part began on May 27, and the webinar is expected to continue on the fourth Thursday of June and July. As part of the webinar, “participants will craft an action plan and learn how to handle a complaint and what an investigation process looks like,” the registration invitation said.

But women-owned breweries are not waiting around.

As women in the industry come to terms with their own experiences of harassment or sexism, they’re leading the charge and changing the breweries they own from the inside.

In light of the revelations, Marvil of Lamplighter is reevaluating the way her brewery does business.

From now on, Lamplighter plans to ask its distributors, vendors, and partners to sign statements saying they do not condone harassment, sexism, or misogynistic behavior in the workplace, Marvil said.

“We’re going to be more intentional about these partnerships, and we are now monitoring the news surrounding our suppliers and vendors,” she added.

“Clearly harassment and sexism are out there, and it’s much more prevalent than we believed,” she said. “We want to make sure we are not supporting or associating ourselves with what’s going on.”

Laura Dierks, the founder and CEO of Interboro Spirits and Ales in Brooklyn, is workshopping strategies to make her brewery a more inclusive and open space, she said.

She and other female colleagues have talked about beginning to openly address biases at work, such as when women are talked over in meetings or made to feel like their ideas aren’t as valuable as those of male colleagues.

“We’re going to be creating anonymous surveys and getting feedback at meetings with no names attached,” she said.

Dierks for a long time kept silent about her experience with harassment and sexism while on the job.

A prospective business partner once asked Dierks how she planned to balance work and motherhood. Her business partner, Jesse, at the time had smaller children than she did, but he was never asked such a question, Dierks said.

“How does a woman answer that question, sitting next to someone who also has children but happens to be a man and will never be asked that question about how good a dad he’ll be?” Dierks said. “Never in a million years, right?”

Interboro Spirits and Ales
Interboro Spirits and Ales in Brooklyn.

Because the man who had asked the question was a prospective business partner, Dierks, though dumbfounded, answered the question: “Yes, my husband is very supportive of me and helps me out at home. I have an au pair. I have somebody to help me with the children in the house.”

Questions like that aside, Dierks has experienced something far more sinister. Right before the pandemic hit, Dierks was at a conference in Miami when a man pushed her into a bathroom and tried to assault her, she said.

Dierks, 53, believed she would be safe from assault because of her age. “‘Why would anybody do this to me?’ was my thought,” she said. “I felt like [harassing behavior and assault] wasn’t going to happen to me ever again because I’m not young, and thinner, and all these things. Yet it did.”

Dierks said she didn’t tell anyone except her husband about the incident. She added, “Because we’ve been taught to not talk about these things.”

“What motivates me now is the courage that many younger women than me have,” she said, when asked why she chose to speak up now.

She added: “I didn’t have that courage when I was younger. And I think that the power in numbers is there. The connectivity we feel to each other, and the support that we provide for each other as women, is much stronger in a public way than it ever was before.”

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Google is facing a class-action lawsuit over claims it paid female employees nearly $17,000 less per year than male staff for the same work

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the Google I/O 2016 developers conference in Mountain View, California
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a developers conference.

  • Former female Google staff won class-action status for a gender equity lawsuit against the company.
  • The four women alleged that Google paid female staff nearly $17,000 less per year than the men.
  • The claimants represent 10,800 women who claim Google pays women less than men for the same job.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Google on Thursday suffered a setback as a San Francisco state judge awarded class-action status to a lawsuit over unequal pay between men and women for the same work, Bloomberg first reported.

The lawsuit was first filed by four former female workers at Google in 2017. In it, the women allege that Google violated California’s Equal Pay Act “by paying female employees lower compensation than Google pays to male employees performing substantially similar work.”

A previously disclosed analysis seen by Bloomberg showed that the case seeks more than $600 million in damages.

The women represent around 10,800 women employed by Google who claim that the company pays men more for doing the same job, according to a July court filing. The court filing said that the search engine company paid female employees around $16,794 less per year than “the similarly-situated man.”

“Google paid women less base salary, smaller bonuses, and less stock than men in the same job code and location,” the July filing said.

“We strongly believe in the equity of our policies and practices,” a Google spokesperson told Insider. “For the past eight years, we have run a rigorous pay equity analysis to make sure salaries, bonuses and equity awards are fair. If we find any differences in proposed pay, including between men and women, we make upward adjustments to remove them before new compensation goes into effect. In 2020 alone, we made upward adjustments for 2,352 employees, across nearly every demographic category, totalling $4.4M. We also undertake rigorous analyses to ensure fairness in role leveling and performance ratings.”

Kelly Dermody, a lawyer representing the women, said in an email to Bloomberg that the next step is getting the case to trial which could happen in 2022.

“This is a significant day for women at Google and in the technology sector, and we are so proud of our brave clients for leading the way,” Dermody said. “This order shows that it is critical that companies prioritize paying women equitably over spending money fighting them in litigation.”

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Apple engineer leaves company after employees speak out about his ‘misogynistic’ past comments

apple tim cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Apple engineer Antonio García Martínez has left the company, according to Bloomberg.
  • Employees had spoken out about the hire, citing his “misogynistic” past comments, The Verge reported.
  • They said Antonio García Martínez wrote “racist and sexist remarks” in his autobiography, “Chaos Monkey.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple engineer Antonio García Martínez has left the company following employee backlash over his comments about women and people of color, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

“At Apple, we have always strived to create an inclusive, welcoming workplace where everyone is respected and accepted. Behavior that demeans or discriminates against people for who they are has no place here,” Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr told Insider.

The Verge reported earlier Wednesday that Apple employees had circulated a petition demanding an investigation into García Martínez’s hiring, citing “misogynistic statements” in his 2016 autobiography, “Chaos Monkey.”

“Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of s–t,” García Martínez writes in the book, according to The Verge.

“Given Mr. García Martínez’s history of publishing overtly racist and sexist remarks about his former colleagues, we are concerned that his presence at Apple will contribute to an unsafe working environment for our colleagues who are at risk of public harassment and private bullying,” the employees wrote in the petition, according to The Verge.

They also said Apple’s hiring of García Martínez undermines its commitment to its stated values as well as its diversity and inclusion goals, and asked Apple to guarantee García Martínez won’t be involved in “hiring, interviewing, or performance decisions.”

In a rare show of public protest from Apple employees, several took to social media to criticize García Martínez’s hiring.

“It’s so exhausting being a woman in tech; sitting opposite men who think because of my gender, I am soft and weak and generally full of shit,” one Apple engineer wrote on Twitter, referencing the quote from “Chaos Monkey.”

“I have been gutted, as many other folks at Apple were, with the hiring of Antonio García Martínez,” another engineer tweeted.

Apple and other large tech companies have made little progress increasing diversity among their ranks, despite years of public promises – particularly among technical and leadership roles, which tend to pay higher.

According to Apple’s 2020 diversity report, 34% of employees were women, while women held just 24% of technical and 31% of leadership roles. In 2014, women made up 30% of the company and held 20% of technical and 28% of leadership roles.

In 2020, white employees made up 47% of the company overall but held 59% of leadership roles, compared to 55% overall and 64% of leadership roles in 2014.

In recent years, Apple employees, like those at other companies, have also filed lawsuits alleging racial and gender discrimination, as have suppliers.

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A former Google engineer said she endured a year of harassment. She’s now vowing to ‘never love a job again.’

Google logo office Mountain View
Google’s logo seen at its Mountain View campus.

  • Ex-Google engineer Emi Nietfeld said she endured harassment and retaliation while working there.
  • In an op-ed for The New York Times, she said Google’s response led her to vow to “never love a job again.”
  • Multiple current and former Googlers have accused the company of discrimination.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Workers have long coveted jobs in the tech industry because companies promise things like good pay, prestige, luxurious perks, and innovative cultures.

But Emi Nietfeld, a Google engineer from 2015 to 2019, wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times on Wednesday that she left her tech job because Google’s supposed reputation as a great place to work masked the reality that – just like other companies – it ultimately looks out for itself.

Nietfeld said in the op-ed that one her male managers sexually harassed for more than a year, calling her “beautiful,” “gorgeous,” and “my queen” – and that Google’s reputation made it that much harder to speak up.

“Saying anything about his behavior meant challenging the story we told ourselves about Google being so special,” Nietfeld wrote, adding: “Google was the Garden of Eden; I lived in fear of being cast out.”

Google did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

When she eventually filed a formal HR complaint, Nietfeld wrote: “Google went from being a great workplace to being any other company.”

Google ignored Nietfeld’s concerns about having to sit next to her harasser during and after its three-month-long investigation, even after concluding that he violated the company’s harassment policy, she said, while suggesting that Nietfeld seek counseling, work remotely, or take a leave of absence.

It’s not the first time Google has come under fire over similar cultural and equity issues.

Multiple former Google employees said that the company told them to take mental health leave when they experienced sexism and racism. Oher employees and shareholders have filed lawsuits accusing Google of gender pay bias, retaliation against whistleblowers, and mishandling major sexual harassment incidents involving top executives.

Nietfeld said Google didn’t appear to do much in the way of reprimanding her harasser, and after suffering through weeks of bad sleep and emotional distress at work, she took three months of paid leave. But Nietfeld said she returned only to face retaliation from another manager, get passed over for promotion, have her pay cut, and have Google make a “meager counteroffer” when two competing job offers came up.

“After I quit, I promised myself to never love a job again. Not in the way I loved Google. Not with the devotion businesses wish to inspire when they provide for employees’ most basic needs like food and health care and belonging. No publicly traded company is a family. I fell for the fantasy that it could be,” Nietfeld wrote.

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Egypt’s first female ship captain fears for her career after she was blamed falsely for the Suez Canal blockage when she was aboard a vessel 200 miles away

ever given suez canal
Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that was wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway is seen Saturday, March 27, 2021.

  • Marwa Elselehdar is Egypt’s first female ship’s captain.
  • Online rumors and fake news headlines blamed her for the Ever Given grounding, she told the BBC.
  • Elselehdar was actually 200 miles away from the incident when it occurred.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Egypt’s first female ship’s captain was blamed for the Suez Canal blockage despite having been hundreds of miles away from the incident, she told BBC News.

Marwa Elselehdar said that she saw online rumors accusing her of being responsible for the Ever Given container ship becoming beached, the media outlet reported.

At the time of the jam, Elselehdar was working as a first mate on the Aida IV. This vessel was in Alexandria – more than 200 miles away from the site of the collision.

An investigation is underway to explain the Ever Given’s grounding, but it is clear that the 29-year-old was not to blame.

Read more: The 4 biggest losers of the Suez Canal fiasco – and 4 surprising winners

Rumors circulating online about Elselehdar’s supposed culpability were made worse by the sharing of screenshots of fake news headlines, BBC News reported.

Several social media accounts also impersonated her and spread false claims putting the blame on her, the media outlet said.

“I felt that I might be targeted maybe because I’m a successful female in this field or because I’m Egyptian, but I’m not sure,” Elselehdar told the BBC.

The young woman described how she was “shocked” when she first saw the baseless accusations on her phone.

The rumors concerned her. “I tried so hard to negate what was in the article because it was affecting my reputation and all the efforts I exerted to be where I am now,” she said in the BBC interview.

A post shared by Marwa Elselehdar💫مروة السلحدار (@marwa.elselehdar)

Elselehdar is one of the few women in the heavily male-dominated shipping industry.

In 2016, she became the youngest and first female Egyptian captain to cross the Suez Canal. A year later, she was honored by Egypt’s president during Egypt’s Women’s Day celebrations, the BBC said.

She hopes that her career, despite this unfortunate setback, inspires other women to break into the industry.

“My message to females who want to be in the maritime field is fight for what you love and not let any negativity affect you,” she told the BBC.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Investigations of workplace harassment or sexism claims have intensified under ‘#MeToo scrutiny’ but that doesn’t guarantee they’re legitimate

Empty office coronavirus
  • There is no one standard way to conduct a workplace investigation, experts told Insider.
  • But generally, they must include an impartial investigator who interviews all parties involved, quickly secures all evidence and is able to reach “reasoned” conclusions.
  • The focus on workplace investigations heightened amid the #MeToo movement, urging boards of directors to better screen their companies and nonprofits for issues.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The process is familiar: A complaint or allegation is lodged or publicized. Calls for action are made. The accused party makes a statement and announces plans to launch an investigation.

That was the case earlier this month when McDonald’s announced it would look into sexual harassment claims brought forward by its employees. And when the MLB released a statement saying it would investigate claims of inappropriate behavior by former Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway. As well as when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo referred sexual harassment allegations brought against him by multiple women to the state’s attorney general.

These internal and third-party investigations are generally designed to determine the validity of serious allegations in the workplace.

But there are many ways they can be invalidated or illegitimized, according to employment law experts and workplace investigators. Some even say companies and organizations sometimes conduct sham investigations that might amount to nothing more than a PR stunt.

Here’s what we learned:

Most workplace issues don’t get reported because of fear of retaliation.

Oftentimes an investigation is launched when an employee contacts an HR rep or reports an allegation to management. That’s the case for about 90% of employers, according to Jared Pope, HR attorney and founder of Work Shield, an employer strategy company that conducts workplace investigations.

Still, about 75% of workplace issues don’t get reported because of a fear of retaliation or other negative repercussions, Pope told Insider.

“Members of management teams have an obligation to ensure that employee complaints are taken seriously and properly investigated to bring a halt to misconduct and apply appropriate remedies,” said Natalie Ivey CEO of HR development firm Results Performance Consulting and author of “How to Conduct Internal Investigations.”

Other times, investigations sprout after allegations arise in media reports, such as Insider’s report that found top male leadership at United Way had engaged in misogyny for decades.

“It’s a toss-up,” Pope told Insider. “Most issues don’t get reported due to fear and those that get covered in the media are those that were once raised to a supervisor, manager, or HR (human resources), but not acted upon or dealt with appropriately in a prompt and reasonable manner.”

Just “a fraction” of companies actually follow up on anonymous allegations, said Juliette Gust, president of Ethics Suite, a workplace misconduct reporting channel.

The goal of all investigations is to determine the credibility of misconduct claims. But credibility is hard to quantify and depends on a lot of factors like how public and exhaustive the results are, according to experts who spoke with Insider. And the investigation’s credibility also depends on whether companies and organizations take allegations seriously as soon as they are disclosed.

Additionally, employers and third-party investigators can often employ different protocols, leading to inconsistency in how investigations are carried out.

There is no one way to conduct an investigation.

But experts generally agree that a valid investigation must meet the following parameters:

  • There must be a known system in place that employees feel able to use to come forward with any allegations.
  • Investigators must quickly collect and preserve any physical and digital evidence that pertains to any allegations.
  • Investigators are expected to interview all complainant(s), witnesses, and subjects.
  • After collecting evidence, investigators must analyze it and reach reasoned conclusions.
  • The investigator must be impartial and well-trained.

“While there are no nation-wide codified standard practices governing how internal workplace investigations are conducted, there are standard practices,” said workplace investigator Lorene Schaefer.

Such standards often derive from guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency that investigates workplace sex discrimination and retaliation.

For publicly traded companies, the Justice Department has a document outlining the steps to carry out a proper investigation, Gust of Ethics Suite said. Private companies, however, don’t have a single method to turn to. And variables like geographic areas and type of entities can also alter the course of an investigation and its results.

“So while there are some standards for preparation, collection and analysis of evidence, reaching conclusions and presenting findings – there are going to be some differences in how investigations are conducted even within different parts of the same organization because of those variables,” Ivey told Insider.

There’s an argument in favor of enforcing set standards to conduct an investigation. Pope, for example, said a standard “by which to judge others” would be helpful and a solid step in allowing “employee’s voices to be heard” more efficiently.

Gust told Insider she believes it would “not be realistic to expect all organizations to adhere to the same codified set standard for investigations.” Different organizations and companies, she said, have different resources and skillsets, which complicates the notion of a set standard across the board.

Ivey said it’s far more important that a well-trained investigator handles the case than it is for there to be a codified system in place.

Without well-trained investigators who are able to remain impartial, collect documents effectively, and analyze evidence, the results of an investigation might not be complete or present an accurate portrayal of internal affairs.

In the event that an investigation is carried out unjustly or without adhering to these general standards, afflicted parties can often seek recourse in state and federal courts, Schaefer said.

The ‘#MeToo scrutiny’ intensified workplace probes.

According to Schaefer, boards of directors across the country felt “intense scrutiny” resulting from the #MeToo movement, which galvanized a culture of speaking out against sexual abuse and misconduct.

The “scrutiny” came as investors alleged “Board of Directors were aware of executives’ alleged harassment and misconduct and failed to take action or disclose it,” Schaefer said. In nonprofits, the same pressure ramped up.

In turn, boards of directors began to more heavily question whether they provide sufficient oversight “to mitigate and manage claims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation,” she said.

“This #MeToo scrutiny of boards of directors and their response to the #MeToo movement is not going away,” Schaefer said. “If anything, I predict the spotlight of scrutiny is going to get brighter and more intense with more investor/donor activism.”

A 2020 report published by the National Women’s Law Center and the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund found that 72% of people who experienced harassment in the workplace were retaliated against when they spoke up. Of the people surveyed who reported the harassment, nearly two in five said their perpetrators had not been held accountable.

United Way in February released the results of an investigation into allegations of misogyny and retaliation from former employees.

Three women who spoke up about sexual harassment said they faced retaliation for doing so in a November report from HuffPost, and more former employees came forward to Insider in December with allegations that the nonprofit’s culture of misogyny spanned decades.

United Way CEO Brian Gallagher.
United Way CEO Brian Gallagher.

The investigation carried out by a third-party law firm at the behest of United Way Worldwide found “the employment decisions made with respect to the three employees at issue were found to be based on legitimate, non-discriminatory, and non-retaliatory reasons.”

Neither United Way nor Proskauer Rose, the law firm that conducted the investigation, returned requests for comment asking whether the investigation hit the standards outlined by these experts.

Shortly after its release, United Way’s CEO Brian Gallagher resigned. But the women who had come forward with the allegations to Insider said they were never contacted to participate in the internal investigation.

That could be for several reasons, investigators said. An organization might deliberately choose not to contact former employees because they “may be in an adversarial position against the company,” Gust said.

It could also just be a public relations stunt, Pope said.

Workplace investigations that do not contact complainants generally have little merit and are “suspicious,” Merrick Rossein, an employment-law consultant and professor at the CUNY School of Law, told Insider.

“If the people who made the complaints have not been interviewed by this third party, then you can say there was no real investigation,” Rossein added.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wants leaders to get real about addressing unconscious bias in the workplace

sheryl sandberg
Facebook COO and “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg is worried that the pandemic could undo years of gains women in the workplace have made.

It’s one thing to hear your CEO mention the topic of unconscious bias in a town hall. It’s another thing to see your direct manager call out your colleague’s microaggression in a meeting.

Real change takes brave leaders engaging in tough conversations. And Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of the gender equity nonprofit LeanIn, wants to make those uncomfortable conversations more common.

“People want to talk about bias, but they’re afraid to talk about what the actual biases are. They’re afraid to say things out loud,” she told Insider.

To help managers work through (not dance around) tough diversity and inclusion topics, Sandberg’s nonprofit created an interactive program called “50 Ways to Fight Bias.” Prompts from the interactive highlight the biases women, especially women of color, experience in the workplace.

Leaders from Amazon, Airbnb, PayPal, and Walmart have already participated in the program. Over 1,000 other companies are signed up.

Not talking about bias has damaging consequences. Among several other factors, like a lack of sponsorship or a culture of discrimination, bias particularly keeps women of color from reaching the highest rungs of the corporate ladder.

For every 100 men promoted into a managerial role between 2019 and 2020, only 85 women were promoted, according to research McKinsey and LeanIn released last year. That gap was even larger for women of color. Only 58 Black women and 71 Latinas were promoted.

For International Women’s Day, Insider spoke with Sandberg about unconscious bias, the mounting number of women exiting the workforce to care for their kids, and her thoughts on how America’s racial reckoning could lead to change.

The following interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

You’ve been thinking a lot about unconscious bias. You recently released an interactive program that managers at Walmart, Amazon, PayPal, and other companies have used on the topic. How are leaders doing right now when it comes to tackling unconscious bias?

It’s really about recognizing that we all need to do better.

We need to have conversations about women being interrupted, about Black women being called ‘bossy,’ about Latina women being called ’emotional,’ these are things that people need to understand are still happening, and we need this to change. And the only way to have these things change is to have these conversations.

It’s about leaders and employees getting uncomfortable.

Yes. We need to talk about it in the specific. Saying “There’s bias,” doesn’t do it. That’s not enough. We have to be specific, even though that’s where the hard conversations come up.

It can be hard to admit that these are the biases because we don’t want to say that, but pretending they don’t exist unfortunately does not make it go away. And I think that’s the point of the “50 Ways to Fight Bias” program.

We’re trying to bring unconscious bias to life.

Another topic I wanted to talk with you about is the staggering number of women leaving the workforce right now, the “she-session.” Are enough CEOs talking about it? Taking action?

I don’t think enough leaders are talking about it. I really don’t. My foundation did a survey in October that showed that 25% of women in the workforce were thinking about leaving.

You saw it coming.

I don’t think it’s that we saw it coming, it’s more that we asked women what they were thinking, and we listened.

Women were working a double shift before the coronavirus, but once the pandemic hit, there was a double-double shift. It’s completely unsustainable for women.

Crises are moments of reconciliation for us, right? We either have to make things better or we have to acknowledge and accept that they’re going to be worse. Women have done the majority of household work and childcare forever, that’s not new, right? The question now is, are we going to accept that? And leave it like that? Or are we going to fight and change it?

What can business leaders do to address the “she-session”?

There’s so much CEOs have to do to address this. This isn’t a problem women can solve on their own. This is a problem we have to work together to solve.

For one, make sure your corporate policies are right. For example, at Facebook, we canceled performance reviews. Because you can’t tell people, ‘Hey I know you’ve got a lot to do amid this pandemic’ and hold them to the same standards. We gave everyone an additional 10 weeks of COVID leave, additional time off for anything related to the coronavirus: taking care of yourself, taking care of your child, taking care of your child doing long-distance work, we are giving you that option. And I think more companies need to change those types of things.

Then there’s bias, you have to have a program that talks about and recognizes bias. You have to be very thoughtful about recruiting and retaining diversity.

There are so many things leaders need to do.

You talked about not wasting a crisis. The pandemic and the racial reckoning underscored the need for corporate America to take diversity and inclusion seriously. Do you think the efforts companies are taking now will continue? Will there be lasting change?

I want to believe that it’s going to be different this time. I think there are some real signs of hope that people are taking this much more seriously. But can I tell you I know for sure? Of course not, but I’m really hopeful.

Let me ask you, what do you think? You must have an interesting vantage point, as someone who writes about this.

Ha! Well, sure. I personally think we’re at a turning point where consumers, investors, employees – they want accountability. They want their leaders to make good on the promises they set out in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. So yes, I think there will be more pressure going forward, which could bring about change.

That makes me hopeful. You know, I really, really hope that we’re not going to waste this crisis.

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Pro-golfer Michelle Wie roasts Rudy Giuliani after he shared a crude ‘panties’ story about her on Steve Bannon’s podcast

rudy giuliania michelle wie
Michelle Wie (L) speaks during a press conference on June 18, 2019 in Chaska, Minnesota. Rudy Giuliani (R) talks to journalists outside the White House on July 1, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • Rudy Giuliani shared a juvenile story about pro-golfer Michelle Wie on Steve Bannon’s podcast on Thursday.
  • Giuliani recalled a charity event in 2014 where Wie’s “strange putting stance” showed her “panties.”
  • The golfer tweeted: “I shudder thinking that he was smiling to my face…while objectifying me.”
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Professional golfer Michelle Wie West clapped back at former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani after he shared a story about being able to see her underwear as she putted during a charity fundraiser in 2014.

Giuliani appeared on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast on Thursday to speak about conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who died earlier that day.

During the podcast, Giuliani, aged 76, reminisced about playing golf alongside Limbaugh and Wie West during a charity event back in 2014. 

The former New York City mayor recalled that Limbaugh was complaining about the presence of “paparazzi” who were following the group around had blamed Giuliani’s presence for it.

But Giuliani told Limbaugh that the photographers were actually only there for Wie West. 

“On the green is Michelle Wie and she is getting ready to putt,” Giuliani said. “Now Michelle Wie is gorgeous. She’s six feet. And she has a strange putting stance. She bends all the way over. And her panties show. And the press was going crazy…They were trying to take pictures of her panties.”

“I said ‘[Rush], it’s not me, it’s not you. It’s her panties,” Giuliani continued.

After an uncomfortable silence, Giuliani asks: “Is it OK to tell that joke?”

“We already told it so, I don’t know,” Bannon responded.

Watch the moment below:

Wie West took to Twitter to respond to the podcast on Friday night, saying that it was “unsettling” to hear the “highly inappropriate” story.

Wie, who does not address Giuliani by name, wrote: “What this person should have remembered from that day was the fact that I shot 64 and beat every male golfer in the field, leading our team to victory.

“I shudder thinking he was smiling to my face and complimenting my game while objectifying me and referencing my ‘panties’ behind my back all day,” she continued.

“What should be discussed is the elite skill level that women play at, not what we wear or look like. My putting stance six years ago was designed to improve my putting stats (I ended up winning the US Open that year), NOT as an invitation to look up my skirt!” Wie West added.

 

Wie West’s tweet has since gotten more than 66,000 likes and also the support of The United States Golf Association (USGA), which tweeted on Friday: “Sexism has no place in golf or in life. We are always in your corner.”

Wie West is a five-time winner on the LPGA tour. At the age of just 10, she was the youngest player ever to qualify for a USGA amateur championship.

She won the US Women’s Open in 2014 and is currently on maternity leave after giving birth to her daughter in June.

Read the original article on Business Insider