I'll take a stab at this. Truly some very interesting questions. :)
1. "How can we women be accepted as equal..."
Obviously, it's the big question in workplace equality, and certainly
you're going to have your hands full with reading material.
Obviously, the scope of your question extends far beyond any
particular workplace, and the answers you will find will range from
focusing on the individual, the workplace, society, education, and
even the complex nature of the universe. :)
Here are some organizations that might help you answer that question
ICA Global Women's Committee: http://www.coop.org/women/gec.htm
International Labour Organization:
deals with violence against women at work)
UN's Division for the Advancement of Women:
and, of course, NOW: http://www.now.org/issues/wfw/index.html
Legislation about Gender Equality
What some other countries have been doing
South Africa: http://www.case.org.za/htm/civilsaf.htm
For some practical advice, try some of these sites:
Workplace Solutions: http://www.workplacesolutions.org/
The Ladies Club 2000: http://www.theladiesclub2000.com/home.htm
Advancing Women: http://www.advancingwomen.com/
For sake of brevity, I've left out the thousands or so essays on the
subject. :) If, however, you're interested in a masculine point of
There are quite a few books on the subject to help you as well. You
Be Your Own Mentor: Strategies from Top Women on the Secrets of
Sheila W. Wellington Betty Spence $25.95.
Bold Women, Big Ideas: Learning to Play the High-Risk Entrepreneurial
Kay Koplovitz Peter Israel Retail Price: $26.00
Female Advantage: Women's Ways of Leadership
Sally Helgesen Retail Price $16.95
Going to the Top: A Road Map for Success from America's Leading Women
Carol A. Gallagher Susan K. Golant Retail Price: $14.00
In the Company of Women: Turning WorkPlace Conflicts into Powerful
Pat Heim Susan A. Murphy With Susan K. Golant Susan K. Golanat
Retail Price: $24.95
2. "Is it ethical for us to request that we enjoy our previous leave
This is a much more subjective question to answer. The question
implies another: "Is it ethical for whom?" As a woman holding a very
senior post, the implication is that you are acting as a
representative (official or not) for your subordinates - your
"fiduciary." As someone acting on their behalf, the answer is yes.
If, on the other hand, you are acting in the interest of damaging the
company, the answer is no. How can you tell the difference?
Typically, after a M&A, a company is left - for the initial period -
structurally weaker with regards to its personnel. The uncertainty of
the future, the financial blow to the bottom line, the prospect of
change (that's why there are change management consultants everywhere
nowadays) may indicate that this is not the best time for a company to
start giving away money for no work. There may be a tradeoff,
however, if morale is threatened to the point where the company will
lose valuable people in the long run if they're not happy. From the
employees perspective, after all, they've taken a hit since the
If you're unsure how to approach the topic, here are some books that
might be useful to you:
Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People
G. Richard Shell Richard G. Shell Retail Price: $14.00
Gerard I. Nierenberg Retail Price: $19.95
Daniel Dana Retail Price: $14.95
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss what Matters Most
by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, Roger Fisher. Retail
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
Roger Fisher William Ury Retail Price: $11.00
3. "Should I be involved in investigating a [complaint]"
In this day and age, you are going to run into two basic schools of
First, companies should have a zero-tolerance policy against sexual
Second, there is a backlash against sexual harassment charges
Here's the kicker: both are correct.
It sounds as if you are concerned that the woman may be crying wolf.
At the same time, this may just be a legitimate complaint. How can
First, understand that the very nature of the complaint automatically
makes you - as a supervisor/executive/etc. - legally responsible. If
your company has a legal department, keep them abreast of the issue
immediately and never for a moment leave them out of the loop. This
can wind up costing you and the company more than you can imagine.
Second, it might be a good idea to set out a policy in writing of a
"loser pays" type of system. What we don't want is for this woman to
continue crying wolf (if that's what she's doing). Likewise, we don't
want a guy who's a habitual harasser. Such a policy would then
indicate very clearly a couple of things:
1. Sexual harassment is a very serious charge, and can damage the
reputation and career of any involved.
2. Complaints of sexual harassment will be investigated thoroughly.
Reasonable differences between coworkers will be handled in private
negotiations (or something to this effect).
3. Sexual harassment will not be tolerated under any circumstances;
violators of this policy will be terminated from the company
4. Frivolous charges of sexual harassment will not be tolerated under
any circumstances; violators found to have made frivolous charges of
sexual harassment will be terminated from the company.
Now, that's just MY suggestion. :)
If you want other ideas, you can check out some of these places:
Nolo: Law for All: http://www.nolo.com/lawcenter/index.cfm/catid/4BEF1F62-722F-435E-98AB18960A6EAB0E
Respond.com (this site allows you to ask the question and have
attorneys answer it for you for a fee:
Sexual Harassment - Attention all employers:
Workplace Liability: http://www.zt-inc.com/
and, not surprisingly, http://www.sexualharassment.com/
Also, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of books on the subject:
Academic and Workplace Sexual Harassment: A Resource Manual (Suny
Series, the Psychology of Women)
by Richard B. Barickman, Michele Antoinette Paludi List Price: $22.50
Addressing Sexual Harassment in the WorkPlace: Trainer's Package
Pfeiffer and Co. Staff Our Price: $110.00
Employment Law for Business 3RD
Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander Laura Pincus Hartman Laura P. Hartman Our
New Price: $109.75
Federal Law of Employment Discrimination in a Nutshell
Mack A. Player Our New Price: $23.50
Implementing Sexual Harassment Policy: Challenges for the Public
Laura A. Reese Karen E. Lindenberg Our Price: $88.95
Kenneth L. Sovereign Our New Price: $49.00
4. "Is it ethical to fight to promote a long time employee..."
Again, when asking the question "is it ethical," it's important to
address who the relevant people are being affected. Motherhood in the
workplace is a controversial issue, as mothers are starting to get
pretty noisy about benefits that include the ones you're talking
Here are some questions that need to be addressed: Are there other
qualified candidates for this promotion? If she did not have the
child, would her performance warrant a promotion? For the tasks that
will be involved in the new position, where would the priorities lie?
Is this candidate willing to do what it takes to perform the duties in
this position to the absolute best of her ability, to the point that
another candidate does not make sense? Has she had to miss projects,
work, or other work-related elements that required someone to fill in
for her (who probably didn't get compensated for doing her work)?
Promotions, it seems to me, should be provided not just as a reward
for past performance, but the potential for excellence in the new
Here come the "ifs"...
IF the employee is exemplary and the work is accomplished in a fashion
that has not suffered due to reduced time, and
IF there is no other candidate more suitable for the requirements of
the position, and
IF she hasn't placed the responsibility of her workload on someone
IF she is willing to accept responsibility for the requirements of the
position knows that she is being paid as an employee, not a mother,
IF the quality of her work in the NEW position warrants bypassing all
others, then support her.
If not, then don't. Remember, she made a choice to have a child, just
like others made a choice to focus on a career doing their best for
YOUR company. She made the choice based on what was best for her. It
is well within the company's rights (and ethically and morally
responsible) to make a choice based on what would be best for the
The search I followed was done using Apple's Sherlock function, so I
don't have specific search URLs for you, but here are some of the
terms that I used:
motherhood in the workplace
sexual harassment in the workplace
women and gender equality in the workplace
gender equality policy