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Don't Make Female Employees Serve Cake

Top view of businesswoman meeting with businessman at office lobby. Businessman and businesswoman discussing new project.
By George Khoury, Esq. on May 03, 2019 | Last updated on May 07, 2019

In the #metoo era we're living in, it can be utterly mind-boggling that a top ranking executive, during a company party, would single out the few women employees in the room to serve everyone cake.

But, as reality would have it, a recent lawsuit filed by the former head of legal of EXL Service Holdings alleges that she was not only singled out to cut the cake because she is a woman, she alleges that nearly immediately after complaining about the incident, she was terminated. It seems that despite how hard pop-culture tries to dispel the stereotype of women being the "office moms," we still have a long way to go.

It's Discriminatory at the Top

While the numbers of women leaders in business and law has surely increased over the past few decades, we're still a long way off from equality. And not just in terms of employment numbers, but also in terms of pay. What's more, those discrepancies are most noticeable at the highest levels of employment, such as GC roles and C-suite positions.

Unfortunately, just because a woman makes it to the top, that doesn’t mean that discriminatory treatment merely vanishes. As the EXL case demonstrates, a company's head of legal can face discriminatory conduct that seriously hampers their ability to perform and leads to termination. The allegations may culminate in a termination after complaining about being made to serve cake, but along the way, it’s clear from the allegations that the plaintiff in the case was not given the sort of autonomy you’d expect such a high ranking lawyer to have. Even at the top, high ranking women still face many of the same barriers as those in the lowest ranks.

The Danger of Labels

For almost anyone, it can be difficult to resist labeling people. It's the premise of implicit bias, and how our minds work. We categorize everything in our brains, and we make various associations between those categories. It's why we find ourselves thinking the same old, media-perpetuated stereotypes. When we put labels on people, we are putting our own expectations on those people, which is likely to lead to an incorrect, or an offensive, assumption. It's not only bad for people, it's bad for business.  

So cut your own cake.  

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