Strong women (and men) have spoken out recently to shed light on shocking abusive treatment in the workplace against powerful people, such as Harvey Weinstein, creating the “Me Too” movement. As a result, men who used their position of power to sexually manipulate and threaten women, such as Harvey Weinstein, are getting charged for their crimes.
Women in Hollywood aren’t the only ones experiencing discrimination. Abuse of power happens in all industries, and women are telling their stories. Luckily, many organizations are stepping up to make the workplace safer. Here are some ways the Me Too movement can help us move forward to a safer work environment.
Sexual Harassment Policies
Companies should have policies in place that prevent sexual harassment from happening in the first place. Start by teaching employees about the kinds of behaviors that define sexual harassment as a part of training all staff. This prevents people from claiming that they don’t know what they did was inappropriate. Explain the topic in simple terms without too much legal jargon. Keep cameras in public workplaces to capture events if possible.
When sexual harassment does occur in the workplace, policies need to be put in place to support the victim. First, clarify a no-tolerance policy that leads to termination for violators. Victims should also get support through the employer.
What happens when an unsafe incident occurs at the workplace? Someone may feel threatened and cornered without any way of getting help. Roar For Good is a woman-led company that offers a Bluetooth emergency button. Once someone hits the button, security will come to the rescue. The button allows authorities to locate you the moment you press the button. This button is extremely helpful for companies like hotels or venues where cameras can’t watch every location in the building.
Putting Women in Power
Part of the problem highlighted by the Me Too movement is the disproportionate amount of women in positions of power. Corporations should make a point to put female representation on the board of directors and put females in top roles in the company.
More women in power means that more of the leadership is likely to make support for female-centric policies a priority. A female in power will also be able to provide fresh insight on the topic and make suggestions for improvement. They also have the perspective to locate issues that others may be blind to due to a lack of personal experience.
Unfortunately, women don’t receive the same amount of pay as men in the same position. We have taken strides to close the pay gap, but it’s still quite wide. At this time, women make $.82 per every $1 a man makes.
There are a number of reasons for this pay gap. Some people claim the gap doesn’t represent things fairly since women choose to stay at home and care for children. Women are also more likely to pause their upward career momentum to be the primary caretaker in the home. This leads to the misconception that women are less valuable in the workplace.
Companies are starting to see the problem and make changes. One way they are attempting to fix the gap is by making pay transparent. Salary should be public knowledge, and employees should be allowed to talk about their pay with each other.
Support for Women at Work
Employers are encouraging female support at work. Some companies, such as CashNetUSA in Chicago, offer female mentors for entry-level female employees. These mentorship opportunities create relationships and provide valuable information on how to get ahead in business as a woman.
Companies that don’t have a formal mentorship program can still promote female mentors. They can also promote female success by showcasing women who went above and beyond in the workplace in the internal corporate newsletter.
The judicial system is also taking steps to make changes for women. Laws are changing so that people who take advantage of power will get prosecuted instead of simply chastised. Many people will even experience fines or jail time for serious transgressions. However, many first offenses receive sensitivity training and the opportunity to change.
Understand All the Forms of Harassment
Sexual harassment isn’t as simple as some people may think it is. There are many situations that don’t necessarily fit the standard image of sexual harassment. Both men and women can be harassed, and harassers can be same-sex or opposite-sex. There are also times when people are discriminated against due to their sexual preference or non-binary gender identification. This may not look like sexual or verbal abuse but rather exclusion from opportunities. Subtler forms of slighting may be more complicated than an outright assault on a victim.
Change the Mindset
We live in a sexist world. It’s become common for people to assume that the person in power is a man. People also assume that mechanics are men and doctors are men. Even language can promote a sexist society. There are many steps required to create change.
First, we need to change how we speak about people in power. We need to stop assuming it’s a man. We also need to change how people speak about women in a professional setting. Women deserve respect when in a meeting, and they deserve acknowledgment for their work. We need to stop with inappropriate jokes about women, as this can be damaging.
We have made a lot of progress when it comes to safety in the workplace, in large part due to the Me Too movement. While the stories are disgusting, it’s important for people to speak up. When we promote a safer business environment for women, we can also create a safer world for them as well.