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This Investigation Really Rattled Me

This Investigation Really Rattled Me

Late last week, you probably read about Robert Kraft, best known as the owner of the New England Patriots, being charged with soliciting prostitutes in Florida.

What you may not have noticed was that — farther down the list, not getting as much press attention — was the former President of Citi, one of the senior guys that I worked with when I was there.

This was the guy whom the famously-conflict-avoiding Citi CEO dispatched to tell me to stop fighting to reimburse clients for investment products that had been missold at Smith Barney during the financial crisis.

This guy was known for his explosive temper; he would scream at me — face bright red, spit flying, vein throbbing — that I needed to “sit down and shut up” when I disagreed with the CEO and that I needed give up the fight to do what I thought was right.

I tried to stand my ground, but I never stood a chance. I was always going to be fired for taking this stand.

On Friday, when the news came out that this man’s name was on “the list” of the accused, the emails started flying among the old crowd: “Can you believe it?” “Karma’s a bitch.” “Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.” “Lol.”

I’ll admit that I schadenfreud’ed for a few minutes. And then I choked up.

Because it is alleged that these women were not some happy hookers, but the victims of human sex trafficking. They were described as thin, hollow-eyed, living in that strip mall “spa,” cooking on hot plates.

Of course, it’s all alleged, innocent until proven guilty, don’t rush to judgement. But, if it’s proven, how could this man I worked with look past those women’s humanity in his (alleged) drive for his own satisfaction?

There may be no link whatsoever among these men’s alleged behavior in Florida, this guy’s ultra-aggressive behavior in the office, the lack of diversity at the company at the time, the lack of gender diversity at the investing firm he currently runs (yeah, I googled it), the lack of progress of diversity in the industry since then, the excessive risk that led to the financial crisis, #MeToo, women’s businesses getting less funding than men’s.

There may be no link whatsoever.

But that doesn’t feel likely, does it?

What can we all do? I wish there was one easy answer. And I hope that the clients of this guy’s current investing firm spent the weekend figuring out how they could take their money out, demonstrating that they are unwilling to financially support that kind of misogyny, if this is shown to be true.

Whether they did or whether they didn’t, we can stop tolerating this kind of misogyny from any company we do business with. A good rule of thumb is not to spend or invest a penny at a company that you wouldn’t let your daughter or friend (or son) work at.

Instead, recognize the barriers to women and people of color being successful, and give them a leg up where you can, just as the men have done for each other all along.

I love to laugh more than anybody — laugh-til-I-cry is my favorite kind of laugh — but this, and its ripple effects, isn’t an LOL.

Read more here.


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