Monday, January 09, 2006

Who's Stripping Who?

So, Morgan Stanley has made the bold move of firing four lower level male employees (an equity research analyst and three institutional equity sales staffers) for visiting a strip club in their off-time while at a company conference in Arizona. Read all about it in Wall Street Folly.

The ramifications are fierce. Wall Street is quivering in its gold-plated boots. Where will brokers go to do business? Golf courses are a whole helicopter jaunt away and it takes hours of chipping away at that little ball before any real deals get struck. A restaurant? Or, god forbid, the office? Strip club owners are positively apoplectic. Without the Wall Street crowd, 90% of them are sure to go under in six months or less. First the Disneyfication of Times Square and then this? It’s just not right.

But women? Hmmm…Way to go Morgan Stanley. Way to put yourself out there and make a stand for equality in the workplace. None of that “this is just for show” stuff. We look after our women. We give them how much maternity leave? We have how many women on our board of directors and management committee? We give how much back to women-oriented charities? Ahem, cough, cough. Excuse us. Doesn’t someone have a merger they want us to discuss?

Those high level women who sued you for gender discrimination, with the backing of the EEOC, didn’t do it just because they wanted you guys to stop going to strip clubs. They did it because they worked in an old boy biz where they were denied raises and promotions they’d earned just as surely as Mr. Heavy Breather next door. And out of that $54 million settlement you agreed to in 2004, I don’t recall the judge earmarking a single cent for strip club visit reduction.

Taking steps to de-emphasize the crude and lewd that’s typically been part of Wall Street culture isn’t by any means a bad thing. But it seems to me that focusing on one faux pas by four horny little analysts is for the most part beside the point. Unless – oh, you clever, clever Morgan Stanley boys (and at the tippity top, the board of directors, it’s all still boys but one) – such distraction was the point.

Interesting strategy.
But I don’t think the girls are going to fall for it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

One Fundamental Pain in the Ass

A quote from Sheila Nevins, president of HBO’s documentary and family division:

"In corporate life, you have to summon up the courage to be what may appear to be difficult in the name of your talents."

A somewhat more circumspect way of saying you can’t be afraid to piss people off. I pulled this from a profile of Nevins on in which she also refers to herself as a “fundamental pain in the ass.” In a way that makes it clear she’s very proud of the fact.

Nevins is a risk-taker of the first order. HBO documentaries don’t feature a lot of cuddly characters and dry talking heads. She’s also a woman with a passion and a vision (not to mention one serious hair-do) who doesn’t sit around and whine and cower when things don’t go her way. She’s learned to master the two big B’s – bitchcraft and balls – and we’re all better off because of it. You've gotta admire that kind of fearlessness.

Go Sheila go.