Wednesday, July 26, 2023

X marks the spot

There's nothing inherently illegal about naming one of your conference rooms "s3xy." If, however, your company has a history of allegations of sexual harassment and other sex discrimination, it's not the wisest choice.

"s3Xy" is among the names X (née Twitter) chose to rebrand the conference rooms inside its corporate offices. X's sister companies, SpaceX and Tesla, have a long history of defending sexual harassment lawsuits (and allegedly retaliating against the victims). All of these companies have one thing in common — Elon Musk.

Last summer, for example, a group SpaceX employees released a statement alleging Musk of boorish behavior that was "a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment" and asking him to stop being a creep. SpaceX responded by firing several of the employees involved following a brief, 24-hour investigation of their complaint.

Meanwhile, Tesla is facing sexual harassment lawsuits from at least seven different female employees, who allege a work environment more akin to a 1970's frat house than a 2020's corporation.

According to one of the Tesla plaintiffs, someone in a t-shirt with emblazoned with "S3XY" conducted her onboarding, which included explaining the company's policy on sexual harassment. "I thought, 'If I'm sexually harassed," she says, "they're not going to care.' "

Which brings me back to X's new "s3xy" conference room. There's nothing inherently illegal about the name. But it paints a picture of a company that just doesn't care about its female employees and won't care if they're sexually harassed. That's a dangerous picture to paint for any company, but especially for a company burdened with Elon Musk's track record with female employees.