Tiffany Pham, Founder of female-oriented social platform Mogul, is hoping to continue the momentum from the Women's March, by uniting millions of young women in protest across college campuses.
“It's a campaign that emerged organically and took off like wildfire across college campuses," said Pham, the Founder and CEO of women-focused media network, Mogul, of her #ReadMyLips campaign. “It's a campaign of women sending messages directly to the White House [voicing concern for Trump's administration]."
The #ReadMyLips campaign, which now includes students from thousands of schools, began with 24 universities including Harvard, Yale, NYU, Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, and Wellesley. According to Pham, participant statements are printed and placed inside statues- incidentally designed by Saturday Night Live veterans-and delivered to the White House.
“We want to ensure women's voices are heard," says Pham, whose life focus has been and continues to be empowering women through access to communication and content.
Pham's platform, Mogul, which she describes as a “social platform enabling women to connect and get opportunities from each other," now has 18 million readers (aged 18 to 34 years old) per week across 196 countries and 30,470 cities, according to Pham.
“Our community is made up of upwardly mobile rising stars," says Pham. We are aspiring to inspire incredible women who are doing incredible things."
“Essentially my vision for Mogul was inspired by my family," says Pham. “I had grown up in a family that had been for many generations in media and I wanted to follow their footsteps. From early age made my mind up I would provide information access to the world."
Pham, who grew up in Plano, Texas, and learned how to master English through television shows and movies, says she saw from a young age how important access to information was.
“I saw how media was such a powerful tool especially for learning and education and I never forgot that experience," says Pham.
It was during her time at Yale University that Pham decided she would create a company for women, with the goal of empowering them through access to information. Pham then attended Harvard Business School she worked for four years in media for various executives at BBC, HBO and CBS, across television and radio.
“I got to see a lot of different types of media," said Pham, who worked with the Mayor of Beijing on a new venture; an international screenwriting competition. “It was one of the first attempts to reach through cultural gaps between the US and Beijing at that time. I found top talent in the US and had them submit screenplays oriented around Beijing."
Through her project in China, Pham, who was working three jobs and producing films on the side, began to see through her goal of providing access to information across the world. A few months later Pham found herself listed in Forbes 30 Under 30.
“The final catalyst towards launching Mogul was one day I woke up and all these young women around the world started to write me hundreds and thousands of letters," says Pham, regarding the reaction to her feature. “I started writing back to every single letter and started to realize they were telling me my messages were changing their lives. I thought 'what if we could exchange information and share our journeys'?"
“Where were the women's voices?"
After a couple of weeks, Pham taught herself programming and built the first iteration of Mogul on a simple platform, which she launched in 2014. Pham's goal was to offer women that chance to upload-content in real time and see what's trending in terms of women's conversations around the world. According to Pham, Mogul had 1 million users in the first month, a number she attributes to a core database of passionate women who all shared it with their respective networks. Another impressive feat? According to Pham, the site became immediately profitable, and thus self-supporting and sustainable, thanks to its large reach.
“I ultimately knew that what I was creating, as a Millennial myself, would be supremely helpful," says Pham. “It would be for my own personal usage; for me, for my friends, for the young women writing to me. Ultimately I realize all these young women in my life were sharing it, and I saw how much it was resonating and realized how much it was needed. Reddit and Wikipedia (whose authors are 91 percent men) are similar platforms plats yet they are catering to mostly men."
Mogul currently includes two arms in its business model; Mogul Studios, which supports the creation of content with brand partners like IBM, Estée Lauder, and Samsung; as well as Mogul At Work, an employee platform where women can share information about their workplace, and where jobs are posted.
According to Pham, Mogul was commissioned by the NYC Department of education to train 100,00 teachers in gender equality training.
According to Pham, for each dollar generated by Mogul At Work, Mogul provides free access to 62 million girls in need of education, in partnership with the United Nations, beginning with India, Pakistan, Canada, Kenya, Myanmar, and Egypt.
“With world-changing partnerships such as with UN Women, we will be distributing free educational resources to over 62 million women across 93 countries, beginning with Kenya, Sierra Leone, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and the Caribbean," says Pham. “With the launch of our partnership, Mogul and UN Women will now be accelerating educational and economic opportunities for women worldwide. We are proud to make this global impact together."
According to Pham she is currently focused on continuing to grow her platform, with no plans to slow down.
“Our aim to take this to new heights," says Pham. “We built a strong foundations to make a big impact on women globally and that model is one that has enabled Mogul to become a highly sustainable, highly profitable social enterprise. We want to take it to next level, continuing to fortify and scale internationally, and through mobile expansion to new women abroad."
When it comes to the future of media, as a whole, Pham believes the democratization of content will continue.
“I believe that in the future everyone will be creating content in some way," says Pham. “In the end what will differentiate that content is authenticity. Brands are creating content, so are influencers, consumers, and businesses. That's why the Mogul platform has positioned itself to become a daily destination for all these corresponding parties. Mogul will enable them to reach women."
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.