The #MeToo movement had all but taken over social media a few months ago, but how can it affect your business? It can be positive and empowering for your female employees if you stay proactive and empower people to make the right decisions when confronted with issues of harassment. But first, let's discuss where it came from and how it got so big, so quickly.
This social media movement, sparked by Actress Alyssa Milano, was all started with a tweet that asked people who have also been sexually harassed/ assaulted to reply to the tweet. Milano did this in the midst of allegations by Rose McGowan that Harvey Weinstein had raped her.
48 hours and 12 million comments, posts & reaction about the hashtag, #MeToo on Facebook later, this one tweet became a full-blown movement. The bigger this became, the more people that stepped up and said, “it happened to me too.” We even saw prominent figures such as Gretchen Carlson and Oprah Winfrey share stories about sexual abuse/harassment.
Although Milano may have sent out the recent tweet that sparked the #MeToo movement attention, this was actually started about 10 years ago by Tarana Burke, a rape and trauma victim advocate. Burke started using the words “me too” because she said it showed other victims her empathy.
With all of the victims coming out and standing together, the next question became, “what can we do to stop this?”
Experts in the field came up with some tips for trying to put a stop to sexual harassment.
1. Call it out when you see it. When you see sexual harassment happening, don’t just stand there. Call it out for what it is so that the people committing the harassment will be held accountable. Many times people brush off the sexual harassment that they see happening or just don’t take it seriously. This is a big part of how people are enabling this to happen every day.
2. Expose people who are sexually harassing others and hold them accountable. Like with tip #1, this is all about awareness and being willing to say something. You must be aware of what sexual harassment is and not take it lightly when you see that it could be happening right in front of you. It may already be hard enough for the victim to comprehend that they have been sexually harassed, so to dismiss it and not say anything could be a confirmation to them that they shouldn’t say anything because it wasn’t justified as sexual harassment.
3. Strong anti-harassment policies and training. A company’s harassment policy sets the standard for how employees are to be treated. By having a strong harassment policy, this sends the message that the company will not tolerate sexual harassment or any other types of harassment. The company rules tell employees what is expected of them so it would only make sense to use that area to strongly discourage any types of harassment.
4. Handling sexual harassment complaints externally instead of internally. Things can sometimes get messy when companies handle sexual harassment complaints internally. The company’s job is obviously to put the company first and to make the company look good. A sexual harassment case does not look good and can cause a company very bad press which would lead to a decline in sales and many other negative things. There is almost a conflict of interest with companies handling these types of things internally. You have to be careful with things like this because while the number one focus should be on creating a safe work environment for everyone, companies are businesses and may prioritize business over conflict.
5. Recognize the issue as a society. If we, as a society, take sexual harassment seriously, then it becomes serious. If we do not, then it is taken lightly and nothing is done about it. Everyone, as a whole, must acknowledge how much of an issue this is. With the recent #MeToo movement, this has definitely been brought to light, but there is always more awareness that can happen. By recognizing this issue and making a point to talk about it, we are saying, “this is important and we should care.”
6. Reward managers for reporting sexual harassment complaints. Although having to report a sexual assault may seem like a nuisance or people may be unsure of whether or not to report things, some suggest that rewarding managers for reporting complaints could be just what businesses need to get these issues addressed. By rewarding people for reporting these types of things, the positive reinforcement puts a positive light on reporting such issues.
If you empower your people to actually take these steps and continue to speak out against sexual harassment, there will be a shift in society and the way it views, reacts to, and reports sexual harassment. This issue may be getting a lot of attention now and we are seeing a lot of people act on the issue, but people must continue to talk about it and speak out when they see it happen in order for there to be real change. You can stay ahead of this within your business if you stay proactive! Give us a call or contact us today if you want to discuss insurance coverages that can also help protect you and your business if a situation were to arise.
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