An Open Letter to Tony Robbins
I want to take a moment to thank you for illuminating a common challenge for women in the workforce. In the recent video of your event in San Jose you shared an anecdote that is an every day reality for working women. Your story reinforces the need for time to be up and for women to continue sharing their stories with the world.
The objectification of women at a systemic level is at the center of this movement. As you said the words, "The woman was better qualified but she was very attractive and he knew, 'I can't have her around, because it's too big of a risk.' And he hired someone else.", I placed my head in the palms of my hands and shook my head. I know your words are true.
Your story is an example of gender discrimination. The woman in the story was not hired because she is a good looking woman. The #MeToo movement is not only calling attention to women who have been victims of abuse, but is shining a light on the sexism women still encounter on a daily basis.
In the recruiting profession, I've been witness to the same hiring thought process as you more times than I can count. I too have "had a dozen men tell me this." Probably more than a dozen. Certainly many before #MeToo or Twitter existed. There are obvious differences between your response to gender discrimination and those I use in my work. Although difficult discussions, it makes a difference.
Your response: Complacent acceptance that a good looking woman is a risk for a team even though she's more qualified than the others who interviewed for the position. The equivalent of "I hear ya bro."
My responses: "Tell me, would you hesitate to bring a good looking man into your existing team of women?" "Choosing not to hire someone based on their gender is discriminating and that is riskier than making the right hire anytime."
"Is this candidate the risk or is it all of the other people on your team who you believe may behave poorly in the presence of the good looking woman?"
"That's an interesting reason for rejecting the most qualified candidate for the job who has the highest likelihood of success. Do you always settle for less than the best because your team can't handle it?"
Do you see the difference? I'm sure you do. You're a smart guy.
As you shared the common experience of male business leaders with your audience, your face said, "You know what I mean?!" We do. We know what you mean. Those of us who choose to participate in #MeToo no longer accept it. We no longer want to live in a world that tells us our presence is so powerful another human's reaction is to be treated like a natural disaster. A man's sexual urges are not uncontrollable and we want to help them see us as people, not objects. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexism and gender discrimination have gotten a societal shrug for far too long.
Initially, I was bothered by your words. Now I'm not. I realize you too have come to believe that men can not be trusted in the presence of a good looking woman. We get it, we accepted that as reality for a really long time and many people still do. The #MeToo movement is not one of anger and victimhood. In fact, it's more like taking your advice, “The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.” The #MeToo movement is a whole bunch of women deciding to begin.
We welcome your participation in a kind, caring, and open discussion where the voices of both women and men are heard. We all have experience in this society that has shaped where we are today. Together we can make the world a better place.
I take this phrase in your apology seriously, "I am committed to being part of the solution." Let me know how I can help. Sincerely, Terra Carbert