So what was the single biggest news development of 2017? Here on the business pages, you could reasonably expect the answers “Trump”, or “Protectionism”, or “North Korea” or “Xi Jinping’s New Era”. No. For me, the most profound development of the year was “#me too”.
No surprise that the Financial Times’ “Person of the Year” was Susan Fowler. Who, you ask? Susan, a 26-year-old software engineer, in February blew the whistle on harassment and discrimination at Uber. Her Uber boss propositioned her for sex on the first day she joined his team.
Her courageous blog – whistle-blowers almost always come to horrible grief – went viral in the US, and began the “#me too” cascade that has since “outed” literally hundreds of top male business, political and show business figures whose abuses had until then been tolerated as an inevitable reality of the working world.
I suspect in a year’s time, Susan Fowler’s name will have been forgotten, but the cause she started is growing apace, with awesome potential consequences in the business world.
“All men have been served notice: you are no longer safe, whether it happened decades ago, or your victims are too intimidated or ashamed to expose you at the moment,” Yonden Lhatoo wrote in the South China Morning Post just before Christmas. “Be sure your sin will find you out.”
I have throughout my working life heard or read about examples of abuse, but on this scale? Even though I went to an all-boy school which inevitably retarded my ability to engage with females normally and naturally, my lifetime experience of women has been awesome.
As a kid, I grew up in a “feminine universe” with three younger sisters and a mum who dominated the home. Dad, always at work, was an outsider to the domestic power structure.
When I moved to Hong Kong, a new “feminine universe” was built around a strong wife, two equally strong and dynamic daughters, and an awesomely capable home…