Arianna Huffington slams ‘double standard’ sexism

Written by Katy Barnato, reported by Helia Ebrahimi
How to avoid burning out: Arianna Huffington

Successful women are stigmatized as "abrasive, difficult and demanding," Arianna Huffington told CNBC on Monday.

"There is no question that there is still a double standard, where words that are being used around successful women, like abrasive, difficult, demanding, are not being used around successful men, who instead would be called driven, ambitious in a positive way," said the founder of online-only newspaper The Huffington Post.

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Huffington said there was "still a way to go" before full equality existed between the sexes in the workplace.

"But I feel that instead of women simply asking to be part of a world designed by men at the top, now we can actually change what we prioritize, what we value," she said.

Her comments come after the biggest-ever study of women in the workplace found that more than half of women had experienced harassment and bullying at work.

In an online survey of 25,000 people earlier this year by professional services firm PwC and campaigning organization Opportunity Now, 52 percent of women said they had experienced bullying and harassment at work over the past three years.

However, Huffington, who is frequently cited in lists of the world's most influential women, said she was optimistic that attributes traditionally considered feminine were more essential in the workplace than before.

"Especially at the moment, when leaders need more flexibility, more teamwork, need to manage from the center rather than the top, all these so-called female values are more necessary than ever," she said.

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Huffington called for changes to the way we work, arguing that current working practices and workplaces did not suit women, men or the environment.

The author of 14 books has espoused the importance of getting sufficient sleep and relaxation, following a well-publicized incident in 2007 when she fell asleep at her desk and broke her cheekbone on impact.

"When companies take care of their employees, and employees take care of themselves, it creates a healthy bottom line," she said on Monday.