By Lauren Kanter-Lawrence
Director of Communications, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick

Reflecting on this watershed movement toward gender equality, Hon. A. Gail Prudenti told the crowd at CMM’s April 17 Beyond #MeToo panel, “I’ve lived through the transition.”

Over 150 guests joined moderator Joe Campolo at Crest Hollow Country Club for an engaging, solution-focused discussion featuring Judge Prudenti (Dean of Hofstra Law School and former Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York), Professor Michael Kimmel (Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Stony Brook University and Director of its Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities), and Carol Allen (CEO of People’s Alliance Federal Credit Union). The wide-ranging conversation focused on generational issues and practical, actionable strategies to engage men and women in fostering supportive and respectful workplaces.

Prudenti noted that the issues are generational, recalling that early in her career it was common for female lawyers to hear comments in the courtroom such as, “You look gorgeous.” Indeed, some of her female colleagues would question themselves and their clothing choices when they didn’t hear such comments. She said that those same male colleagues who made the comments, however, were still fair, excellent lawyers and judges; “the world has just changed.” Kimmel also spoke of generational challenges, saying that those in the workforce who were socialized in the “old system” depicted in Mad Men – for example, a secretarial pool in the center of the office, to which some men viewed sexual access as a perk of the job – need to change.

Carol Allen, who has risen through the ranks in a male-dominated industry, reported hearing “but she’s so young,” or “she’s a woman” along the way, and emphasized that confidence is key for women to advance in the workplace. Confidence must also play a role in engaging men in the conversation. Kimmel challenged men who hear other men making harassing comments to not leave it to the women in the room to handle (calling it a no-win situation for a woman, who has the choice of saying something and being a “buzzkill” or not saying anything and swallowing her anger). Instead, Kimmel said, men should seek out like-minded men who are also offended by the comments to join forces to speak up next time. Campolo suggested #MeNeither would be an appropriate hashtag to symbolize the solidarity of men who won’t stand for sexual harassment in the workplace and are instead actively working to change attitudes.

Prudenti made a point to focus on the many male mentors along her own professional journey, all of whom have treated her with dignity and respect. “The #MeToo movement really says to women: you deserve to be yourself.”

In addition to the incredible value guests received from CMM’s complimentary presentation, they also had the opportunity to engage with the panelists. CMM attorney Meghan Dolan, mom to an almost three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son, asked about some of the most important values or teachings parents can focus on to raise respectful, well-adjusted boys and men. Kimmel said that opposite sex friendships are critical and life-sustaining, and urged parents not to discourage them in their young sons’ lives.

“The panel and the moderator were all excellent,” said Laura Morea, Business Development Consultant of Alcott HR. “They kept the attention of the audience by making the panel presentation interactive and somewhat spontaneous. The guests that I was able to meet and network with were delightful.”

Brian Burke, COO/CFO of Young Equipment Solutions, said, “This was the finest presentation among a broad spectrum of meetings CMM has sponsored or Joe has moderated.” Patty Sullivan, Market Development Director at Marcum Search, echoed, “Great topic looked at from different perspectives. Joe as always was a great moderator.”

Check out additional coverage of the event in Newsday and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn to see event photos. Thank you to our event sponsors Klein Wealth Management at HighTower Advisors, St. George’s Golf & Country Club, LI News Radio, and our nonprofit partner Island Harvest.