PHILADELPHIA — Last night, former New York mayor and billionaire executive Michael Bloomberg addressed the Democratic National Convention, in prime time, in a speech designed to present the political independent’s case for supporting Hillary Clinton for president.
Much of the coverage of the decision to give Bloomberg that plum speaking spot noted how off-message it seemed. The convention has highlighted stories of mistreatment of black people by police officers, and featured speakers who have argued that American Muslims should not be burdened with extra scrutiny by the security state. Bloomberg’s mayoralty, though, was defined in part by his NYPD’s extensive surveillance of Muslims and their discriminatory treatment of black New Yorkers.
But it’s odd that no one (that I have seen) mentioned another, perhaps even more pertinent reason why it seems inappropriate to host Bloomberg at a convention that has just nominated the first woman presidential nominee in the history of America’s major parties: Michael Bloomberg is, according to many, many accounts, a crass sexist, and his company, Bloomberg L.P., has a lengthy history of alleged gender discrimination.
Gawker has extensively covered both Bloomberg’s personal chauvinism and his company’s alleged mistreatment of female employees. Here are just a handful of the many sexist remarks that have been attributed to Bloomberg over the years:
- He told a New York Magazine reporter “look at the ass on her,” as he gestured to a woman at a holiday party.
- A Bloomberg LP employee-produced book of Bloomberg quotes has him saying: “If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale’s.”
- Former Bloomberg employees who sued the company for sexual harassment alleged that Bloomberg made a number of inappropriate remarks to and about women at the company, including saying “I’d do her” about one executive, and urging her to “kill it!” when told she was pregnant.
(Bloomberg has denied saying all of this, except that he’d “do” his colleague. He claimed he thought “do” in this context meant something like “be friends with.”)
Bloomberg L.P., meanwhile, has been described by numerous former employees as a hostile workplace for women, and 65 women joined a gender discrimination suit against the company, alleging that pregnant women and new mothers were systematically discriminated against. The suit was dismissed by a Bush-appointed judge who seemed to buy the company’s arguments that its expectations of relentless productivity didn’t amount to discrimination against mothers, because managers expected everyone to completely sacrifice their home lives for the sake of working for Michael Bloomberg. But the evidence collected by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission made it obvious that Bloomberg was a place where women were strongly discouraged from becoming pregnant, and where mothers were punished for taking maternity leave.
For a party that is pushing for national paid family leave and ending the wage gap, Michael Bloomberg seems an odd person to invite into the big tent.