Women at Merrill Lynch Were Ordered to “Seduce” Their Way to the Top
12:30 pm, July 29th | by Grace Rasmus
Three women are suing Merrill Lynch for gender discrimination after they were instructed to “seduce the boys club” in order to get ahead, the New York Post reports. The women allege they were given a book called Seducing the Boys Club: Uncensored Tactics From a Woman at the Top and ordered to attend a lecture led by the book’s author, Nina DiSesa, the first female chairwoman at ad giant McCann Erickson.
Hat tip to The Cut for publishing excerpts from DiSesa’s “advice” book. Here’s DiSesa explaining how she gets a man to do work for her:
I play on their masculine pride and natural instincts to protect the weaker sex.
“I can’t figure this out, and I’m exhausted,” I will say to one of the men at the office. “And if it’s not done by tomorrow, I’m dead.”
“I’ll do it,” he’ll invariably say. But his rescue mission won’t be truly satisfying to him unless I show my appreciation for the sacrifice he is making on my behalf. This is as crucial as saying thank you.
“No, no, you’re swamped, too,” I’ll say.
“I’ll make the time for it.”
“Thank you. I love you.”
“I know. You’re welcome.”
It’s like great sex. Everyone walks away feeling fulfilled.
Here she is on how to effectively diffuse tense situations:
If you know you are going to have a contentious meeting with a man, you can defuse his anger before he even opens his mouth. Unless he is morbidly obese, there is no man on earth who won’t puff up at this sentence: Wow, you look great. Been working out?
Don’t forget how important it is to stroke a man’s “fragile ego”:
It was also important to reinforce his hunk status, assuring him that the small bald spot at the top of his head was hardly noticeable and that he hadn’t “lost it” when a woman would break up with him or refuse to date him (a rare event). He needed to know that he had my love unconditionally; it was the only way he could ever trust me with his fragile ego.
DiSesa also encourages women to behave like a “little sister” or a “den mother” in the office:
Maggie asked herself, what do men love? Beer. Candy. Toys. So she stocked her mini fridge with beer along with her designer water; she kept a big bowl of candy on her desk, she brought in games like boggle and checkers. Pretty soon the boys were hang out in her office, and when they discussed things of business interest, Maggie was right there with them.
According to court documents filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, branch manager Joe Mattia endorsed DiSesa’s unorthodox tactics such as flirting, sugarcoating, and criticizing male co-workers with flattery. The ex-Merrill Lynch employees allege they were “pressured to attend gals-only events on topics like ‘dressing for success’ and ‘preparing healthy meals while working full-time.’” The women also reported being told to be more “perky” or “bubbly,” and one even says a manager told her to “stick to her knitting” when she tried to bring in a client.
Women shouldn’t have to resort to seduction and manipulation (or “S&M,” as DiSesa calls it) in order to rise to the top. Women shouldn’t be the only ones offended by DiSesa’s advice — her portrayal of men as insecure children who are easily manipulated by toys and half-assed flattery is less than complimentary. The book is crazy enough on its own but the fact that upper management actually endorsed such repulsive tactics is pretty mind-blowing.
However, the Wall Street Boys Club is unfortunately not a myth. Women are vastly underrepresented in the finance industry (much more so than in other areas) and hold only 8.6 percent of executive officer jobs. According to ThinkProgress, women also earn less than men in finance: the top six jobs with the biggest pay gaps are financial. If financial institutions are going to take the initiative to help women “rise to the top” and close this gap, they should do it by actually being helpful and supportive, instead of simply encouraging women to flaunt their sexuality.