Deutsche Bank just held its 20th annual Women in Business conference in Singapore and, as Quartz pointed out, the theme was… wait for it… “Men Matter.”
As if the women in attendance needed another reminder that, for the most part, their workplaces are governed and structured by men.
Now, there is an explanation for this unfortunate name choice. The idea is that Deutsche Bank wanted to drive home to women was that they should go beyond themselves and their women’s groups in seeking help.
The idea was that men could be allies for women in workplace too, as long as they’re men who understand that when women in companies do well, companies do well.
Event co-chair Antonia Cowdry, regional head of human resources for the bank in Asia Pacific, framed it as “turning our attention this year to the role they [men] can play in improving gender diversity, we want to reach decision-makers who previously hadn’t considered these issues.”
Unfortunately, that’s not what it sounds like. At best it sounds like the men in the bank are making the Women in Business conference about themselves.
At worst it sounds like a men’s rights campaign — where men feel marginalized because women are being open about gaining power and freedom in a certain space — and as such need to remind women that they should be able to maintain their dominance.
That’s a pretty dark thought to have at a conference celebrating women, which is why optics matter. Deutsche Bank probably didn’t mean to have people making fun of their event on Twitter, but that’s what happens when you’re careless with naming.
People may get the wrong impression.
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