They are right here. Are their rights being violated? Are they themselves subject to many violations, including the ultimate indignity? That would be managerial ravishing. Or bureaucratic condoning. Or, still worse yet, cultural accepting and silencing.
As context, the news from the United States confirm that a man lost his job. It was not just any man. It was not some back alley, predatory business operating on the dark side. And it was not just any kind of run-of-the-mill, everyday wrongdoing. It was all of that, and much more. So much more that is needed here, should happen here, but is not being delivered here.
We make a start by referring to that man and his moment. His moment of weakness, recklessness, and foolishness. The man is (now was) the Chief Executive Officer of a storied company. It is a company that is listed on the prestigious New York Stock Exchange. Takes a lot of performing at a high level to get there. Staying there can be shaky, as much is required to maintain performance, through reputable practices.
The company is McDonald’s. It is now as every day and American as apple pie, motherhood, flag. McDonald’s, as Guyanese know from their travels, is universal. And to be CEO of the company is close to being somebody in American commerce. That was the role that Mr. Steve Easterbrook filled. He filled it to the point of distinction. He filled it by turning the company around through delivering. Then he was fired.
For what, it may be asked? For materially misleading investors – a blasphemy? Cooking the books -a cardinal sin? What was this CEO, fired for, when his record is of doing so commendably?
This is going to sound alien to Guyanese minds and ears. It should not be. It should not be, if we are serious about protecting the sanctity of our women workers. It should not be, if we are committed to guarding the dignity of female presences, especially in the sanctuary of the workplace. None of this should be foreign or unfamiliar, if we are zealous in righting the wrongs that continue to be demanding and demeaning and dangerous to our sisters in the workplace. Sometimes, there is no choice. None!
And that was where the board of McDonald’s had to go, how it was compelled to be. For it, too, had no choice. It had no choice, despite Mr. Easterbrook’s outstanding record of making matters right at McDonald’s. It had no choice but to fire a highflyer, and apparently a man, too, who lived for the highs of the thrill.
Mr. Easterbrook was fired for an inappropriate and unacceptable relationship with a female subordinate. Whether consensual or not, femme fatale or not, circumstantially justifiable or not, he was fired for such a relationship. End of story. Case closed. A new chapter for former CEO, Mr. Steve Easterbrook, must be found somewhere else.
No matter how deserving, it may be regrettable. Regrettable that such promise was squandered. What is more regrettable, and infinitely so, is that someone – a woman – may have been irreparably shamed and harmed and painted scarlet forever.
Now even more regrettably, in this country, there would be shrugging, even smirking and making merry, over such a story as the fall and departure of the CEO of a foreign company, with a global presence. Who cares? What does it matter? Well, it does matter, this paper seriously believes, when the women in the Guyanese workplace are treated as sexual objects, objects of derision, and to every form of disrespect. Disrespect for their gender. Disrespect for their dignity. And disrespect for their persons.
The word, not necessarily unfounded, has been of sexual predation and sexual coercion at many levels and from many parties. It is nearly cultural. It is possibly a lingering strain of the droit du seigneur that is still evident in the workplace. In power and out-of-power political people, senior bureaucrats, and private sector mainstays have pushed and overpowered. Failure to cooperate leads to being pushed out the door.
It is a not-so-closed, continuing secret in this society. It needs to be called out. This paper does so. Let some people be fired. Do we have the guts?
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