Tag Archives: #MeToo
One year ago on Oct 15th, 2017, the #MeToo movement exploded virally as a hashtag and has since forced the world to have a very long overdue conversation. Since its inception, a number of prominent men have lost their jobs, as well as California and New York passing laws to require company harassment training and make it easier to report abuse.
Times Up, the Hollywood-born legal defense fund fighting sexual harassment, raised over $ 20 million to provide legal resources to women in the workplace. And earlier this month, the organization hired its first president and CEO. Although the country has seen some movement in the fight for women’s rights, change takes time.
It got me thinking…what has actually changed since the #MeToo movement and what has not? I wanted to share my own thoughts and ask 5 powerful women entrepreneurs to weigh in on what they thought has changed for women, what hasn’t changed as well as suggesting one action we can take to continue the forward momentum.
Here are my thoughts:
In the past year there has been a collective breath taken by every woman, as more action is being taken in response to women speaking up about being harassed. Our voices are starting to be heard and that allows for more truth. What hasn’t changed is the questioning of women’s truth. We just saw this with the questioning of Dr. Ford’s claims against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
My suggestion is that women need to build their confidence so that they communicate their truth and don’t fear action. When you experience an injustice and sexism, do and say something.
The biggest change I’ve noticed is that women are sharing more freely about the experiences they had, in many cases so long ago. Still scarred, hurt and edgy — but talking about something they’ve mostly kept to themselves until now. What surprises me is how many people are brushing the experiences/accusations aside based on their political affiliation, rather than viewing it as a compassionate human.
My suggestion is to pay attention to your reaction when a new #MeToo story comes out. Watch what your initial impulse is… and follow the source of your belief or disbelief as objectively as you possibly can. If it ties into protecting something politically or personally motivated, check yo’ self!
Nisha Moodley, Women’s Leadership Coach & Founder of Global Sisterhood Day NishaMoodley.com
Since #MeToo, more women feel a sense of not being alone, and that our voices, bodies, and experiences matter. We matter. Paradoxically, what has not changed is that we are still shown, in numerous ways, that to many people our voices, bodies, and experiences do not matter.
Educate yourself on intersectional feminism, because the more layers of oppression a person experiences, the more complex and challenging it will be for them to thrive. If we’re going to stand for true equality and freedom for all, we have to prioritize and include the needs of LGBTQ folks, people of color, differently-abled folks, children, and our planet. If we’re going to continue to rise and steer our world towards progress, we need to include those who the status quo seeks to exclude.
The most significant change that has precipitated all these other changes has been a huge burst of energy and cohesion among women and their supporting networks. Women are coming out with their stories in greater numbers. Women are running for office in record breaking numbers. Unfortunately, while there has been major cross gender support for this movement, the old boys club remains the same. Some of the same men in power will always chalk this movement up to hysteria or some sort of desire for fame as related to victim hood.
We have to stop feeling that we need to be submissive to men in power. We have to speak up against people who dismiss women who tell their story or air their grievances. You have to define what that means for you, and it can be as small as speaking out against a sexist uncle at Thanksgiving, or as big as running for office. Find your voice. Don’t keep it inside anymore.
I love that women have been standing together in solidarity and saying, ENOUGH. Yes, Time Is Up! Last summer female founders came forward to talk about the harassment and bias and inappropriate behavior we were experiencing from venture capitalists and other high-profile executives in startup land. While the tide is starting to shift for female entrepreneurs in a startup ecosystem designed for and that caters to men, we still have a very, very long way to go in terms of gender parity when launching high-growth startups.
We need more women to become investors. In 2016, VCs gave male-led startups $ 58.2 billion compared to 1.46 billion to women-led companies. Yet, women do great things when our startups are venture backed. Our companies have been shown to produce a 35 percent higher ROI when venture-backed. Putting more women in funder seats, ups the chances of women getting funded, as well as additional effects on the startup community, including diversifying venture firms and deal flow.
More women are owning their power to speak up for themselves and share stories that were once shameful, as an opportunity to inspire others to do something different or speak up. Unfortunately, women are still getting themselves into really bad situations and let go of their power to physically, verbally and spiritually abusive men.
Vote! Vote on policies that make change. Take back your power.
Yesterday, another two public officials resigned due to sex scandals and their resignations seem a bit backward. The first, Al Franken (D-Minn) had photos of him inappropriately touching women. He, however, denied that he’d really done anything really wrong, saying,
“I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that in fact I haven’t done. Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently.”
The second, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) resigned after “discussing surrogacy” with some female staff members. While that doesn’t seem like actual sexual harassment or discrimination to me, he felt that in the current climate he needed to resign. And, of course, we do not know the whole story. We don’t know anyone’s whole story.
While you can’t shake a stick in Washington or Hollywood without hitting someone sleazy, sexual harassment isn’t limited to the rich and famous. And while some of the victims of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, and Louis C.K. were, themselves, pretty famous, most victims are normal humans. And normal humans have regular jobs. And normal humans with regular jobs may be feeling a bit more stressed with all this focus on sexual assault and harassment. Some may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
[R]ape and sexual assault might actually be the most common cause of PTSD. Data suggests that anywhere from 30 to 80 percent of sexual assault survivors develop PTSD. With so many women exposed to sexual assault, it becomes clear that the disparity between men and women in mental health issues might be closely related to the trauma many women face.
So, there may well be someone suffering from PTSD in your office who is feeling worse in today’s climate. What do you do?
You’re not your employees’ best friend, and you shouldn’t try to act like it. Don’t have big sharing sessions or talk about how some guy smiled at you on the bus and made you feel violated. It’s insensitive and dumb. #MeToo isn’t a competition.
Remind your whole staff about your EAP.
You should have an employee assistance program, and if you don’t consider implementing one today. They are inexpensive and can be life-saving for employees. EAPs are experienced in helping people find mental health support and depending on your plan, visits may be free or at a reduced cost, at least for an initial therapy session.
Make reasonable accommodations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act covers many cases of PTSD, which means that (as long as you have 15 or more employees), you are required to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee who qualifies. Encourage someone who brings up any stress from these recent events to see their physician and have the paperwork filled out.
Then, be willing to make accommodations for your employee. What is reasonable depends on the job and the company. Work with your employee to come to a solution. (This is called an interactive process and is required by law.) For instance, if you work in an office, it might be reasonable to move someone’s desk so that her back is against the wall, which means no one can sneak up on her. If the same employee is a cashier at the grocery store, it may not be reasonable to have her in a location where no one can come up behind her.
Never excuse bad behavior.
One thing we’ve found out during this time of sexual harassment revelations is that perpetrators need accomplices. The Harvey Weinsteins and Matt Lauers of the world wouldn’t have been successful in their longtime harassment had many people, men and women, not allowed it.
There is no employee so valuable that you should tolerate bad behavior. If you want your employees to feel safe at work, investigate every claim, and fire anyone who deserves to be fired. Period. Even if that person is your top salesperson. Shut that behavior down.
Chances are, you know someone who is dealing with raw feelings, so remember, above all, be kind.