One in Three Women Has Been Harassed at Work; #MeToo

Posted In: Things That Suck
Posted On: 10/16/2017

I feel as if I had an old wound opened this week…

I have been reading with great interest (and disgust) over the last week as more and more actresses are revealing their Harvey Weinstein stories of sexual harassment.  As sad as I am to read how many women have been confronted with this humility by a rich and powerful movie executive, I am happy that the subject is getting the recognition it deserves.  I am thrilled that women with strong voices and large audiences can get the attention of millions of people.  I am hopeful that bringing down this one predator will lead to the collapse of many more executives harboring their own dirty little (or not-so-little) secrets.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Under the cold surface is the alarming statistic that one in three women has been sexually harassed at work and 71% of those did not report it.  In my experience in the business world, younger and more junior women are the most vulnerable because they don’t yet have the experience to know what is inappropriate nor the confidence to stand up to a powerful man.  In a perverse twist, the women who are subjected to harassment will actually become less confident and more vulnerable.  And probably less successful in their job because of that loss of confidence.

When I started my business career over thirty years ago, I would have assumed that by 2017 sexual harassment would not exist.  Why?  Because back then, politically incorrect was a polite way of saying that a senior executive just didn’t “know better.”  You know, he was “old school” and he was a product of his generation.  I assumed that all these old guys would be replaced by young, forward thinking men who had moms and sisters in the workplace and that dynamic would change their attitudes towards women.

I now believe that human nature will not change. I believe predators existed thirty years ago, predators exist today and predators will exist in thirty more years. More important, I believe we can put an end to sexual harassment in the workplace.

We end harassment by getting rid of predators.

Sounds so easy, doesn’t it?  You just line all the bad guys up and walk them out the door!  Bye, bye, creeps!

Unfortunately, many of these bad guys are very important to their companies.  Maybe they are a founder/owner like Harvey Weinstein or a high producing sales executive or an incredible operations manager.  Someone that the company doesn’t think they can do without and so their indiscretions are overlooked.  But here is the most important point: their indiscretions are overlooked.  That means that someone, probably lots of someones, knows what they are doing.  Like Weinstein, they just keep getting away with it because their personal power trumps the impact of their actions.  Until it doesn't.

We end harassment by getting rid of predators.

We get rid of predators by not overlooking their indiscretions.

We CAN put an end to sexual harassment in the workplace. 

One predator at a time.