No! That’s not OK

Jul 10 | 2023

Steve Jordan opens a debate on the scourge that is the intimidation of women, particularly at industry conferences. It’s not easy reading.

The intimidation of women is not OK

As I start to write this story, I know it won’t be easy. When I began the research for it, about six weeks ago, my aim was to find out whether it was a story that I should write. Was it a real problem, or was it just the way folks behave when they get together and have a drink or two?  I really didn’t know. Now I do.  It seems we have a problem – and it might be getting worse.

Since the dawn of time men have chased women. It’s a good thing they do, otherwise none of us would be here. But there’s a time and a place.  There is a way to behave and a way not to. There is business and there is social. There is banter and there is harassment. Some, it seems can’t tell the difference.  Some, it saddens me to say, are sexual predators. This is what this story is about.  I told you it wouldn’t be easy. 

This is the result of multiple interviews I have carried out in the last few weeks, with both men and women, most of whom have been made to feel uncomfortable, or worse, while attending industry conferences.  I didn’t self-select them. With a couple of exceptions, it was a random group, yet almost everyone had been affected and all encouraged me to write the story. Some have asked to remain anonymous, so I have decided not to name anyone. Not yet anyway.

I also know that this is not exclusively men intimidating women.  Men are sometimes subjected to unwanted attention too. Nor am I trying to be the fun police.  We all attend conferences in part because of the interaction between friends and colleagues. Nothing must stop that, or we might as well all stay at home. I know too that long-lasting, genuine relationships are often forged in the hotel bars with many people, me included, finding their life partners at a mover’s conference.  What goes on between consenting adults, at conference or elsewhere, is not the subject of this story.  But when consent is absent, that’s different.

Finally, let me say that our industry is packed with good people.  Conferences are, generally, safe places to be.  I’m talking about an unpleasant minority.  If they are reading this, they know who they are. I am talking to them.

In my conversations I have heard harrowing stories ...

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