#MeToo, Fear, and the Future of Women’s Leadership

Mario Batali, the celebrity chef and restaurateur, has formally exited the restaurant industry. His departure follows accusations, more than a year ago, of sexual harassment and assault in the wake of #MeToo.

Although this powerful movement has brought immeasurable positive — and hopefully permanent — change, it has also triggered unforeseen negative consequences. One is a potential threat to women’s advancement to senior leadership, as some men have become wary of forging professional relationships with female colleagues.

More than three-quarters (82%) of men, in fact, are worried about false allegations of harassment — more than any other workplace gender issue. Almost half of male managers are now uncomfortable mentoring, working alone, or socializing with women, according to a LeanIn survey, and senior men are more than three times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner with a junior-level woman than a junior-level man.

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