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Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
The torrent of news about sexual harassment cases has been nothing short of extraordinary over the past few weeks. In fact, the word “torrent” hardly seems to cover it.
There has been a lot of discussion about whether we’ve actually reached some sort of cultural tipping point … and to be honest, I’m not sure. I know women who thought that we’d reached a moment of change back in 1991 when Anita Hill testified before Congress about being sexually harassed in the workplace. But nothing changed, because not enough people - especially men - were willing to take her seriously.
Maybe things really are different now. We have social media, which has served as a useful, even devastating tool to be used against abusers and predators. Maybe social media will keep things from being swept under the rug.
There was an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll the other day with some alarming statistics:
• 48% of women who are currently employed in the United States report they have personally experienced an unwelcome sexual advance or verbal or physical harassment at work.
• 41% of men who are currently employed say they have personally witnessed the mistreatment of women in the workplace.
• 67% of US people believe sexual harassment happens in most or almost all workplaces. “Of the age groups surveyed, women aged 18-49 believed that the most (78%), compared to men older than 50, who believed that the least (55%). Which somehow isn’t surprising.
• Democrats and independents viewed it as more prevalent than Republicans do.
The good news: “49% of men say recent stories about sexual harassment are making them rethink their behavior around women.”
Let’s be clear about a couple of things. Because much of the coverage of these sexual harassment cases has focused on the entertainment industry and the media, there are people who think that this actually is an indictment of those industries.
That’s B.S. It isn’t 48 percent of women in the media and entertainment businesses who say they’ve been sexually harassed … it is 48 percent of all women in the workplace. In government, in education, in manufacturing, in banking, in retailing. Everywhere.
That probably means that a sizable number of women in your organization - wherever it is you work - have dealt with it. They’ve suffered at the hands of men in the c-suites, and at the hands of men in middle management, all of whom decided it was okay for them to exercise whatever power they had in horrible ways that no doubt have had lasting repercussions.
Here’s the deal. If you are any sort of leader in any sort of company, it is time for you to step up and say to everyone in your organization, there is no place here for this crap. If you are a victim, here’s my email address and phone number - please get in touch with me now and help me rid this organization of the creeps who are playing this game. I am on your side.
If you are a predator, get ready to pack your bags ands clean out your office, because there is no room for you here … and I don’t care if you are the biggest superstar in the company. You’re going to be gone, and if we can do it, we;’re going to make sure you are going to be prosecuted. Period. Full stop.
By the way … you have a fiduciary responsibility to do this. Because while the media currently is more involved in outing its own offenders, like Mark Halperin and Michael Oreskes, they’re going to get around to every other industry. And as far as I’m concerned, they should.
I’ll tell you something. I used to work for a guy, now deceased, who sexually harassed women. Everybody - men and women -knew it (including the wife of the CEO who happened to work in our department) and everybody - men and women - just sort of ignored it. I remember feeling uncomfortable about it, and I remember pointedly not getting involved in his games and even occasionally admonishing him about it but in retrospect, even though I was a fairly low-level guy, I didn’t do enough. I didn’t say enough. This was 30 years ago, and I guess everybody thought he was creepy but harmless. We were only half right, and we all ought to be ashamed of ourselves.
And by the way, everybody who knows where I worked then, or worked with me, knows exactly who I’m talking about.
I hope we’ve reached a cultural tipping point. There’s no room for this, no excuse for it, and no reason for it to continue.
The torrent may have just started.
That’s what is on my mind this morning, and as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: