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Panel: Beware of #MeToo isolation

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With all the talk, training and other activity arising from the #MeToo movement, some worry about unintended consequences such as isolating women in the workplace.

“I’ve said this to the employers — let’s not go so far to the extreme that we begin to isolate women out of a fear that ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to have a conservation with her and I might say something wrong,’” said Linda Hollinshead, a partner with the law firm Duane Morris and panelist at a March 6 event in Kenilworth hosted by the Association for Corporate Growth New Jersey Women of Leadership.

“[Employers] take a step back and don’t   create the opportunity for that uncomfortableness,” Hollinshead advised employers and HR professionals. “Those are lost opportunities. That’s the backlash.”

One audience member spoke of an experience in which former bosses would conduct male co-workers’ annual reviews over lunch and drinks, while her review would be held in the office.

“I was the only female partner in the firm, and I would go to lunch with guys in a group but never alone; I did feel [that] may have hindered my growth,” recalled Alix Rubin, who now works for her own firm, Rubin Employment Law.

“I find that frustrating, because it’s almost doubling down on the problems that led to these issues to begin with,” said Natalie Watson, the panel’s moderator and a partner at the law firm McCarter & English LLP.

Among the tips for HR protocol came this from Donna Hughes, senior vice president of human relations at Impax Laboratories: “Get an idea of whether or not that person will behave consistently within your culture, so you’re not in a situation where you have to retrain them based on something that they did. If you hire people inconsistent with your values, that’s on you.”

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Gabrielle Saulsbery

Gabrielle Saulsbery

Albany, N.Y. native Gabrielle Saulsbery is a staff writer for NJBIZ and the newest thing in New Jersey. You can contact her at gsaulsbery@njbiz.com.

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