Rejecting The Pence Rule

November 22, 2017

With the daily drumbeat of famous and not-so-famous men revealed to be serial abusers of their power, there’s been a lot of discussion about the “Pence Rule,” named after our Vice President, who famously refuses to meet with women alone, or even attend events where alcohol is served without his wife. Apparently, this practice can be traced to the evangelist Billy Graham, who took it so far as to avoid riding elevators alone with women.

One Fox News anchor, Brit Hume, recently suggested that in light of the many sexual harassment accusers now coming forward, maybe the Pence Rule isn’t so crazy after all. He took a lot of heat for the comment, but also attracted some defenders.

The arguments fall roughly on two sides. The first was articulated well by Katelyn Beatty, and editor for Christianity Today, who recently wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times arguing that the Pence Rule is deeply cynical and arises from “a broken view of the sexes.”

David French offers a different perspective in the National Review, writing that such an approach can protect both sides from reputational harm, and puts up some important guardrails. He argues, for example, that there are many women who appreciate not being put in a position where they have to dine alone with a male boss, and that such a policy is respectful of those views.

We typically avoid subjects like politics and religion here at the Peepshow, but I have to weigh in on this one.

As far as I’m concerned, the Pence Rule leaves not only women, but also men, diminished in the richness and depth of their professional experiences, relationships and growth.

Powerful, abusive men, whose boorish behavior toward women clog our Twitter feeds daily, have forced deep introspection at a lot of workplaces, Fast Horse included. We want to maintain a safe environment for all Ponies, and, like so many others, are trying to brighten lines and better articulate boundaries.

I can assure you that the Pence Rule is not on the table at Fast Horse.

As we continue to grow, I want to continue to build and maintain personal relationships with the people who call Fast Horse their professional home. I want that to be the case throughout our organization, and would say that the many and deep relationships that have formed among our people are what’s kept so many of them here for so long.

I benefited from the same during the 12 years I spent at Weber Shandwick at the start of my career. Over dinners, at ballgames, on the golf course, on road trips and in the office, my bosses and colleagues — male or female — became my friends and mentors. They remain so to this day. No chaperones needed. Those relationships made me a better practitioner because there was a mutual investment in growth. I was more open to tough feedback because I knew those my superiors cared about me as a person. And those personal relationships made it easier for my bosses to deliver what I needed to hear in those formative years.

I thrived in a place where men and women were treated equally, respectfully and on a human level. I saw my female peers thrive in that same environment. It’s really no more complicated than that.

Call it the Pierach Rule.