A string of women have left Sony over the past year — Christine Birch, Paula Askanas, Amy Carney, Andrea Wong and Jean Guerin come to mind — and now this: an email from two male executives inviting women to participate in a Women’s Creative Leadership Initiative “to better equip our women leaders with the tools necessary to amplify their voices.” It was signed by the two male execs: Tom Rothman and Mike Hopkins, the top managers at Sony representing both film and TV. Read the email below.
Bravo if women want to mentor other women and support is given for that from the top management, but the email as written is tone deaf and condescending to women. It suggests that the reason women aren’t being heard is they don’t have the know-how — or “tools” — to communicate. This is not about women being unable to express themselves. This suggests a broader cultural problem, and this email underscores that. Sony doesn’t have any female executives at its highest corporate level.
This email puts the blame on the women for the lack of opportunity and not being able to get men to listen. While we applaud Sony for taking this initiative, the email is a great example of how sometimes even men need better “tools” in knowing how to choose the right words.
We were told that the email was written as group effort that involved women and that Rothman and Hopkins approved this malarkey. Anyone believe that? Because we don’t.
Here’s the email in full:
We are excited to invite you to participate in our pilot program – Women’s Creative Leadership Initiative. In our ongoing efforts to foster, nurture, and support diversity, this pilot program will power a series of workshops and events in Culver City and at our offices around the globe, to better equip our women leaders with the tools necessary to amplify their voices. We know that the future success of our business will be innately tied to the elevation and contributions of the next generation of women leaders. With these panels, discussions, guest speakers, and work-sessions, we hope to further a culture of inclusive leadership, career development, visibility, and impact.
Our first series of workshops will be tailored primarily to female creative executives at the vice president and senior vice president levels and will be led by top professors from Stanford’s Center for Women’s Leadership and the Graduate School of Business. Hannah Minghella, Dawn Steinberg, Kristine Belson, Spring Aspers, Holly Jacobs, Marie Jacobson, Lexine Wong, Jamie Stevens, and Kim Overall have been integral in shaping this pilot initiative and will shepherd the program as executive sponsors.
The first workshop is scheduled for May 11 from 12 – 2 p.m. at the Rita Hayworth (calendar invite to follow). The interactive workshop (led by Marianne Cooper, the lead researcher for Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In) will provide strategies to identify and navigate gender bias. Please reach out to Kate Nihill at (EMAIL REDACTED) with any questions.
We are very proud of the hard work that everyone has done to bring this to fruition and we encourage you all to participate.
Tom and Mike