Throwing a frat-themed office party? Probably a bad idea. This idea is especially a bad for social media/tech companies, since they already suffer from heavily criticism for being overtly male-dominated.
And then this happens: a team at Twitter through a frat-themed office party while being sued for gender discrimination? This is quite possibly the worst idea possible in terms of supporting gender equality in the workplace.
At least this serves as a good opportunity for other businesses to learn: don't do what Twitter just did.
“TWITTER FRAT HOUSE”
To be fair to a large company, it was one of their San Francisco-based teams that came up with the idea for their internal “happy hour.” But they went all-out: red Solo cups, a keg, and a Twitter-branded beer pong table. You'd expect nothing less in a city that rebranded a neighborhood “The Quad.”
But you'd also expect that employees at a company being sued for gender discrimination to have a little more self-awareness around the issues of gender, sexual harassment, and rape that have been exploding in the media lately.
At least one spokesperson does — Jim Prosser told Fusion: “This social event organized by one team was in poor taste at best, and not reflective of the culture we are building here at Twitter. We've had discussions internally with the organizing team, and they recognize that this theme was ill-chosen.”
“In Poor Taste at Best”
This “ill-chosen” party comes a mere 3 months after former Twitter engineer Tina Huang filed a class action gender discrimination suit against the company, claiming it “creates a glass ceiling for women that cannot be explained or justified by any reasonable business purpose.”
And beyond Huang's specific claim that she was constantly overlooked for promotion during her five years at the company and then put on administrative leave when she finally complained, Twitter's gender gap in tech jobs and leadership roles is not flattering. All of which is to say employees should've steered clear of a gender-based happy hour theme.
And they definitely should've checked with their legal department first. You may want to consult with an experienced employment law attorney before your next office party.