Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Paul Jones' Apology: It's not enough

Last week, billionaire investor Paul Jones made an offensive comment regarding women Wall Street traders. Sitting on stage at the University of Virginia, he stated that trading was not a working mother's job, because apparently her usefulness is sacrificed. 

He didn't use those exact words, but I  watched the clip several times and that is precisely how I interpreted it. A link has been attached to let readers make up their own minds. But here is his response to a question about why there were only white men on his panel:

"...take a girl that was my age at this point in time and particularly back in the '70s. I can think of two that actually started off (sic) with me. Within four years, by 1980, right when i was getting ready to launch my company, they both got married. They both got married and then they both had, which, in my mind, is as big of a killer as divorce is, they both had children, and as soon as that baby's lips touched that girl's bosom, forget it. Every single investment idea, every desire to understand what is going to make this go up or go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience which a man will never share without a mode of connection between that mother and that baby."

If I were to use Mr. Jones' example, then I'd like to know what beautiful life changing experience compromised his reasoning that day. To imply that his female colleagues were rendered scatterbrained after having children is ridiculous. Parenting has its challenges and it sucks the life out of us at times, but it affects both parents. I wonder whether he ever considered there were other issues affecting those women - or whether he even cared. 

He did apologize a few days later, but only after the media picked up on his comment. As far as I'm concerned, it was a little too late in the game. He defended himself by replying he was "talking off the cuff", whatever that means. 

But what is more troubling is the tepid reaction to his comment. There were a few responses from women, but Mr. Jones was redeemed too prematurely. Where were the feminists and pro-women activists? They were quick to attack Yahoo's executive, Marissa Mayers, when she made a strategic decision that led to the ban of remote working at her place a few months ago. Her stance was covered for a longer duration than Paul Jones' comment was. 

It's worth stating that Paul Jones was to later identify himself as a pro-woman champion. But here's what I want to know: did his service on behalf of women's rights ever include accommodating working mothers at his companies or was it just limited to talking "off the cuff"?

Here is a link to his comment:


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