Fact: The #MeToo Movement has been around for years. It was started in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke as a framework for both ending sexual violence and helping those who have been victimized, by:
- Focusing on healing and survivorship
- Providing leadership training and development
- Providing guidance for community action
As Burke said, “It is the start of a larger conversation and a space for community healing for all. It’s about giving people a voice through empowerment and empathy.”
Fact: The movement rapidly accelerated in 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano asks her followers to reply “me too” to her tweet if they had been victims. (Milano gives Burke credit for the movement and her full support)
For many victims, the #MeToo Movement has given them the courage to speak up and get help. For many perpetrators, it has brought the downfall of the realm of abuse. Unfortunately, however, the movement has been hurt by those who use it as a momentum for gaining attention, as a public band-aid, and a way to “pass the blame” for their bad choices. Not only does this hurt the real purpose of the movement, it trivializes the experience of genuine victims.
It leaves businesses unsure of how to move forward – they neither want to be viewed as cold and uncaring nor do they want to be caught up in a cultural “witch hunt.” The bottom line, however, is surprisingly simple.
The truth has never changed: No employee should ever be forced into sexual favors in return for career advancement or anything else.
While there are many businesses who have always upheld and enforced this truth, the #MeToo Movement is a prod that is pushing businesses who have failed to act in the past to join the ranks today. It’s time for leaders to make an intentional change. How?
- Tie your position back to your business when making a statement. This isn’t your personal statement; it’s your company’s.
- Choose the right, audience-appropriate platform for making a statement. If you’re speaking to your employees – use company platforms. If you’re making a public-statement, use the platform that authentically and transparently reaches the right audience – whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, submitting a Media OpEd or another avenue.
- Take Action. Address the issue, communicate company core values, culture, and policies, and encourage employees to speak up. Act with integrity. By caring and working together, you can make a difference.
- Be Vulnerable. Recognize that taking a stance on a difficult issue isn’t easy. Don’t hesitate to admit what you don’t know and seek advice from a qualified expert before speaking and acting.
Taking a responsible stand on difficult issues in a productive way is a vital leadership skill in today’s society. When that tough issue is sexual harassment in the workplace, company leadership must speak up and take responsible action, focusing on the truth behind #MeToo, regardless of twisted hype. Tim Ryan, Senior Partner, and Chairman, PwC US, sums it up well,
“As a business leader, it is really important that we set the tone from the top of our organizations to make clear that this [sexual harassment] won’t be tolerated and that women and men who feel they have been victims should not fear coming forward,” he says. “Put simply, our workplaces and communities don’t work well if people are afraid, and being mistreated.”
At Springborn Staffing, we take our responsibility as Maine’s leading temporary employment agency seriously. Our employees, candidates, and clients matter. We work hard to match strong companies who uphold inherent rights with talented employees who give their best. Integrity, authenticity, and transparency are our watchwords. Contact us today and join our team.