THE BEST TIME TO DEAL WITH SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS TODAY
Sex harassment can be driven by desire or by hostility but the ripple effect can come back to haunt businesses and careers long after the actual harassment is over. We’ve seen that with the case of Matt Lauer and the number of high profile NBC corporate dismissals surrounding the alleged acceptance of his reported harassment, retaliation and discrimination. What can derail a victim more than the actual act is often the lack of sympathetic or powerful ear. A recent New York Times article on the lack of enforcement of sex harassment policies within NY state government cites, “...a tangle of commissions, offices and agencies, many with overlapping jurisdictions but different procedures and enforcement powers — and no clear framework for reconciling them.” Sometimes it is not bureaucracy but indifference as is alleged at NBC by former stars like Soledad O’Brien who told the Washington Post,”...people ‘generally did not care’ about women’s stories of sexual harassment.”
How can victims feel empowered to report sex harassment if they don’t know where to go or what may happen once they do tell? This was the frustration reported by NBC’s Ann Curry recently when she recounted her conversations with NBC brass on behalf of a lower level staffer who implored her to help report Lauer to the bosses at the network. As Curry told USA Today, she reported Lauer’s behavior in 2012, “I told management they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women.” The woman who originally approached Curry still fears for her job and has remained anonymous.
Businesses may not want to deal with sex harassment claims but if they’re happening those facts will eventually come out and be costly in loss of productivity, loss of culture and yes...in the most obvious loss of financial well being due to litigation. If you are in a position to listen and act, you have great power and responsibility.