There's a long overdue conversation happening on social media, among friends and in many offices right now — how to stop, as well as address, the sexual harassment and misconduct many women experience at work. As part of this, many men are looking inward, wondering how they can stop being part of the problem.
But according to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, there could be an unintended consequence of public conversation, and it could spell bad news for women.
"The percentage of men who will be afraid to be alone with a female colleague has to be sky high right now," Sandberg writes.
Isolating women would have many negative impacts, most tangibly, that women would lose out on mentorship and sponsorship opportunities. This could exacerbate existing problems, such as the fact that women are already less likely to be promoted than men. They're also more likely to be underpaid.
There's a simple solution, however, according to the Facebook executive.
"Whether that means you take all your direct reports out to dinner or none of them," Sandberg writes, "the key is to give men and women equal opportunities to succeed."
"Doing right by women in the workplace does not just mean treating them with respect. It also means not isolating or ignoring them — and making access equal," the COO adds.
Leaving women out of important meetings or conversations, Sandberg says, would be a step in the wrong direction.