In the years since I founded Pink Petro, I’ve often heard from people across the energy industry asking how I respond to trolls. It's no secret that there are some sexist, racist people who oppose our efforts to help the energy sector become diverse and inclusive.
My response to trolls is generally the same: I pay them little to no attention.
Who has the time? We live in an era in which anyone can hide behind an anonymous Twitter account or website. Hateful people are given a platform to spew memes and jokes that really aren't funny and this generally stems from their own self-worth.
I digress. For those trying to end hate, this simply comes with the territory.
For women like me, it means facing misogyny. And it isn’t limited to the Internet. I’ve most recently found dog excrement in my mailbox and had sex toys sent to my office, simply because of what I stand for. I know you're shaking your head asking yourself, "Who does this?"
But there are times when it’s right to address this phenomenon in a public way. If not for yourself, then for others who are being targeted.
Since launching ALLY -- the energy platform for everyone to make connections, level up careers, and join forces in building a sustainable energy future-- some trolls have been out in full force. Repeating the same preposterous, nonsensical argument that supporting inclusion somehow means opposing white men, they’ve been looking for new ways to attack.
Parody accounts of Pink Petro on Twitter have provided a platform for misogyny and bigotry. (Here’s our real Twitter account.) And a new website, calling itself “Blue Petro,” was launched a few days ago.
For me, this rubbish was a moment to pause and call it out.
Mixing Nazism with an attack on two institutions who've built the industry-- Texas A&M and the Society of Professional Engineers -- the site declares that the “Texas A&M SPE Chapter has outed itself as a puppet of PinkPetro after establishing their anti-white anti-men gestapo force.” The group’s meetings, the site says, will now be “lectures to white men how they're bad and that we need to import more cheap H1B1's and women to be Engineers in charge of operations.”
Here’s a quick fact check:
- Capable women engineers don’t need to be “import(ed).”
- People on H-1B1 visas are not always paid less.
- Engineers have been in high demand for years, so talented candidates have hardly been battling for a tiny number of jobs.
- In fact, the latest U.S. Energy Employment Report says employers in fuels report that “engineers/scientists” are the occupation “most difficult to hire for.” And the energy sector remains 78% white and 76% male.
- TAMU Chapter of SPE is a rewarding organization that develops students in engineering, and it looks like they are raising $5000 so show them your support.
- Quite simply, inclusion and diversity benefit entire businesses and entire industries -- and, therefore, everyone who is a part of them. I argued this in with Barron’s on the financial case.
Looking away sometimes is an unsafe act.
My health and safety leadership experience taught me something about human behavior. One of the biggest mistakes we make is to become immune to situations around us. We see things we know aren't right and we let things happen. The net of these experiences ultimately shape our beliefs in how we work, act and respond (or not).
What example are you setting? Are you leading?
When faced with trolls and controversy like this, I often think of my daughter, Ally. I reach back and remind myself of my purpose. In May, I published my first book, Grow with the Flow, Embrace Difference, Overcome Fear and Progress with Purpose (Wise Ink). The book delves into why I left the industry to make real change happen. I tell the story of "Bubba", a 75 year-old drunken man on a plane whose sexist comment changed my future.
What's a pretty young lady like you doing in a dark dangerous business like oil and gas?
Bubba, somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, 2013
I’m committed to setting the right example for my daughter. I want her to know that you never feed a troll but it's absolutely important to find her voice and use it.