Female Lawyers: Still Harassed Worldwide

An International Bar Association survey of 135 countries has found that one in three female attorneys has been sexually harassed at work, and half have been bullied.


Shouldn’t be.

It’s the power differential inherent in BigLaw that we have described before. The prevailing compensation structure and traditional BigLaw firm culture is toxic. 

And, indeed, this new report noted that “The fact that many law firms are male-dominated with a hierarchical power structure may be part of the problem.”  And the problem won’t be fixed until women achieve equal positions of power.

And Axios reports on a new LeanIn.org and SurveyMonkey poll found that “60% of male managers are uncomfortable taking part in workplace activities like mentoring and socializing with junior-level women — a 32% increase from last year.”

And “36% of all men say they’ve purposefully avoided mentoring or socializing with a woman because they were ‘nervous about how it would look.’”

Axios noted that “It highlights how women can receive less support and development in their careers — as well as the ability to prove themselves in the workplace — as men in leadership positions pull back in the wake of the #MeToo movement.”

We have cautioned men in the workplace not to treat women employees like they were toxic – last year Amy wrote about the 2018 LeanIn.org and SurveyMonkey survey and noted that

“We talked about this earlier this year (here) in the context of the unintended consequence of the #MeToo movement: the increasing marginalization of women in workplaces because of fear of unfounded accusations. This fear has created serious issues.

As we discussed here, in the workplace we do not want male supervisors, executives, and employees to treat women as if they were toxic—like live hand grenades. The workplace is neither a bar nor a potential dating pool. But, that said, we don’t want to unintentionally create “bro clubs” or male-dominated cliques in the workplace either— especially where men are the arbiters of a woman’s promotion or partnership potential. This would impede the mentoring needed to promote women and could increase attrition of female employees.

Moreover, studies show that when organizations employ more women, sexual harassment is less prevalent.

She also authored a post here entitled, quite aptly, “’Men At Work’- #MentorHer.”

She concluded: “men: don’t stop mentoring women because you’re afraid of a sexual harassment allegation. If you behave like a professional in the workplace, you have nothing to fear!”

There’s nothing new under the sun.  At least if you read our blog!

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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]