Like business itself, equality of opportunity for females in the workplace keeps mutating. It used to be as simple as equal pay for equal work, which was guaranteed by the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Now, it has been extended to the more subtle and yet complex areas such as not just any seat but the right seat at meetings.
Currently, the gender trial "Pao v. Kleiner" is wrapping up. Last week Tina Huang filed a gender-discrimination lawsuit against Twitter and Chia Hong a more complicated one against Facebook.
The three lawsuits, although all alleging discrimination, are different.
For example, some contend that plaintiff in "Pao v. Kleiner," Ellen Pao, might have a weak case. If she loses, the loss could be based on simple points of law. On the other hand, she could be awarded a windfall of punitive damages.
Huang is attempting to launch her litigation as class action. Yet, that class might be difficult to certify.
With so many women seemingly thriving at Facebook (think Lean-In Evangelist), Hong might be facing an uphill legal battle.
But to "talk the law," can open thought leaders to a storm of protest. Despite all the legal and law enforcement television series, the legal process is not well understood by many. It could position one on the wrong side of gender issues to assert that Pao might have been unwise to file a lawsuit. In addition, it might come across as way too pragmatic to muse about the impacts of litigation on these three women's future career paths.
Not that thought leaders should or can duck gender issues. It's that they have to be prepared to articulate their stance with caution and attention to details. Unfortunately that could put their message on mute in this era of extreme communications.