Leaders Should Reject the Pence Rule – Here’s How
Vice President Mike Pence has a rule that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and does not attend events featuring alcohol without her present. Recent media reports in the wake of #MeToo indicate that employers seeking to deter sexual harassment may be tempted to implement this rule, out of an abundance of caution. In fact, many well-intentioned men have long avoided these situations to prevent an appearance of impropriety.
Despite these concerns, adopting the Pence Rule is a mistake – one that threatens the gains women have made in the workplace, and impedes further progress.
The rule invites inappropriate scrutiny of existing male-female friendships at work;
The rule imposes an arbitrary burden on coworkers who want to meet offsite over lunch, dinner, or for a mid-day change of venue; and,
The rule reinforces the unconscious view of women as being “other” – a problematic condition that must be accommodated.