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The Ivanka Effect: The Business Ramifications Of A Turbulent Presidency

Politics

Ivanka Trump is very relatable and likable, a reassuring contrast from her polarizing father. During her father's presidential campaign, she advocated for making child care more affordable and accessible.


She helped create the child care tax plan that he released in September. The child care deduction that the Trump campaign proposed, back in September, was meant to augment the current child tax credit and dependent-care flexible spending accounts and could be available to families with a stay-at-home parent as well as to those paying for child care.

Photo: Business Insider

The plan that Ivanka wants would allow individuals earning less than $250,000 a year, or married couples earning less than $500,000, to deduct child care expenses from their income taxes, up to the average cost of care in their state, according to the September plan. Lower income families would receive a rebate for their expenses, up to $1,200 per year via the earned-income tax credit.

She's often portrayed herself as the advocator for bread-winning mothers as she harnessed her father's White House campaign and victory to elevate that image. She rallied to close the gender pay gap during her RNC speech: “Single women without children earn 94 cents for each dollar earned by a man, whereas married mothers made only 77 cents," said Ivanka. She added: “Gender is no longer the factor creating the wage discrepancy in this country, motherhood is." She's almost right; the gender is still a factor, but her point is notable.

It was almost enough to buy-in to her motivating speech. Ivanka IS a real-world role model. Had her father been almost any other man in America, her campaigning and stumping for her father would have been a resounding success.

But he isn't any other man, and he constantly reminds the American people every chance that he gets.

Presidential linguistics?

Whenever he encounters a perceived rival or potential threat, he bluntly assesses their appearance: “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? He said about Carly Fiorina, before adding: “I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on, are we serious?" He also declared that model Heidi Klum is “no longer a 10," that Arianna Huffington is “a dog who wrongfully comments on me," that Bette Midler is “extremely unattractive," and that Rosie O'Donnell is “a dog." His misogyny is well-documented and widely known.

But then came the shocking 2005 recording (published by The Washington Post) of his boasting that he could “grab women by the p***y," because “when you're a star they let you do it." When his wife, Melania, was questioned about it, she seemed genuinely hurt: “The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me," she said in a statement. “This does not represent the man that I know." She continued: “I hope people will accept his apology as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world."

But when did character stop being an important component of leadership?

Even with his unrelenting stream of misogynistic comments, his supporters could conveniently dismiss all of it as locker-room banter. Even Ivanka publicly commented on her father's now infamous comment: “My father's comments were clearly inappropriate and offensive," she said in an interview with Fast Company magazine; and I'm glad that he acknowledged this fact with an immediate apology to my family and the American people."

But that wasn't good enough for many others, including Shannon Coulter, who runs a marketing boutique firm near San Francisco. A male boss had groped her once and Trump's comments reminded her of that pain, saying: “She (Ivanka) puts women's empowerment at the center of her brand, and is still campaigning for someone who is an alleged serial sex assaulter." Coulter birthed the hashtag #ivankant and shared her thoughts with the Internet, sparking a trend that had reached more than two million Twitter accounts: #BoycottIvanka.

The popular hashtag #GrabYourWallet urges American consumers to boycott stores and websites that carry Trump products. The movement has persuaded several companies to drop their Trump products, namely items in Ivanka Trump's fashion line.

Clarifying words...

But his own words allege sexual assault, of course he dismissed it as locker-room banter, but that revelation became ground zero for #ivankant #fashionnotfascism #BoycottIvanka and #GrabYourWallet, and with it the birth of a powerful movement. His unorthodox leadership style fueled mass protests not just around the country, but also in cities around the world.

A talented writer who writes for Cosmopolitan, Michelle Ruiz, wrote a riveting piece about why women are boycotting Ivanka Trump, back in October, 2016.

Ruiz talks about one woman's personal account, a female college student that she interviewed, a former self-described “Maxxinista," who can longer shop there because they carry the Trump clothing line. It didn't even matter that Ivanka's name was the only Trump name on the label. Read the Ruiz article but be warned of certain trigger words and expect to be moved by the female college student's personal account of how she suffered traumatic flashbacks to the physical and sexual abuse of her past.

In short, the student said: “My first thought was, grab them by the p***y, we can do anything we want, we don't even ask." She went on to say that “This is what Trump means to me." And she's not alone.

Photo: Mark Wilson

Another woman who, wishes to remain anonymous, identifies as a proud Republican, and lives in New York City. She said that, she too, can no longer purchase Trump's blouses: “I just can't do it; I can't bring myself to buy it." She added that she doesn't dislike Ivanka at all: “I know that she can't control her Dad; she's in a hard position."

Appearances can deceive...

Ivanka has been remarkably cool and composed given how it's affecting her business prospects: “The beauty of America is that people can do what they like, but I prefer to talk to the millions-tens of millions-of American women who are inspired by the brand and the message I've created," she revealed in an interview with Good Morning America.

When Ivanka gave the introduction speech during the Republican National Convention, she said that her father had told her, when she was growing up, that there's nothing that you can't accomplish when you marry vision and passion with an enduring work ethic." One cannot help but imagine just how much she must work now to undo the damage created by her father's seemingly never-ending string of verbal mishaps.

Significant fallout...

Since the election, 3,600 Trump-branded products have been dropped from online stores. That represents a 61 percent drop in products since late November, 2016, according to Shannon Coulter who published the data. Stores such as Nordstrom's, Neiman Marcus, Belk, Kmart, Sear's, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshall's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and others have stopped selling Ivanka Trump's products online.

Getting beyond something of this magnitude will require a significant amount of endurance and strength to overcome. Publicly she appears composed and strong. But when alone one must wonder how heavy a toll this must be for her to endure. Then again, countless scores of people suffer quietly alone, everyday of their lives, struggling with the painful memories of sexual abuse.

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

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.