Maintaining A Focus on #MeToo As Other Issues Ascend

October 9, 2019 Ben DiPietro

Oct. 9, 2019

Maintaining A Focus on #MeToo As Other Issues Ascend


Two years have passed since the first reports of Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault allegations went public, and one year since the explosive and divisive U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh, in which Christine Blasey Ford gave her emotional testimony against him. 


While #MeToo has since resulted in many executives losing their jobs and their reputations, many stories have yet to surface, and many women have yet to come forward. One more just came out to tell her story against Weinstein.


As attention turns to climate change, gun control, and the 2020 elections, will #MeToo remain a focal point of attention for the business community and society?


"While other social matters are coming into the conversation, it's not an either/or choice; it's an and," said LRN's Jen Farthing. "The conversations around sexual harassment that #MeToo began made it possible to start additional conversations in the workplace about all types of social and behavioral issues."


"#MeToo is timeless," said Davia Temin, chief executive of Temin and Co. "Unwanted sexual aggression has been with us forever, from cavemen days onward."


And since most every woman has experienced some form of sexual harassment or impropriety, there are a huge number of grievances built up, she said.


"It is only now with the internet, social media and their ability to empower one voice to reach many, that survivors are indeed finding they are not alone, and using their voices to surface prior and current injustice. And they are demanding redress," said Temin. "We are going to have to deal with the issue once and for all."   


So, how can managers and executives keep a focus on #MeToo behavior, and work to eradicate it? What role does training and communication play?


Leaders should continue to focus on values-based training, relevant scenarios, and reinforcement through different types of learning opportunities all year, said Farthing. "Ethical leaders are animated by values, and stand up for moral principles even, and especially, when it is challenging to do so," she said.


There needs to be a robust and trustworthy way to report #MeToo behavior, said Temin, who favors using an outside service, as is done for whistleblowers. The board needs to see those reports, not just management, she said. 


Also, from the top down, such behavior must be seen as 100% unacceptable. "No exceptions," said Temin. "That doesn’t mean that each person accused is guilty, but it does mean that each accusation has to be investigated seriously." 


If companies are equating communication on the topic of workplace harassment solely with formal training, that isn't enough, as training is just part of a program, and conversations about it need to go beyond annual training, said Farthing.


It's important for companies to take an active role in operationalizing their E&C policies, while ensuring topics such as sexual harassment are given full consideration all year, she said.


"To truly catalyze changes in behavior, conversations need to continue to take place," said Farthing. "Companies should continue efforts to reinforce each and every employee's responsibility to speak up and report misconduct. Continuing to build trust and transparency contributes to overall program effectiveness."


And as important as it is to seek and deliver justice, Temin said there must be an effort to develop a way back for those who are guilty, as well as those who are not. "It’s not at all easy for offenders to be rehired. But the right people need to be punished, and not the wrong, and this is tough to adjudicate. Justice matters," she said. 


"I believe we need to outline a rigorous way offenders can learn their lessons, and then pass them along," said Temin. "This will go a long way to eradicating the behavior, now and in the future."


                                                                                                            BEN DIPIETRO




Digital transformation continues to accelerate innovation and fundamentally change how companies operate and deliver value to customers and clients. 





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Companies are reshaping the debate over gun control, CBS News reports.


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"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success."


-Henry Ford, founder, Ford Motor Co.



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