Report finds ESPN's culture 'hostile' toward women
- ESPN maintained a largely hostile workplace for its women employees, dismissing a former employee's sexual harassment complaint and generally creating a difficult place to work for women, an exposé from The Boston Globe claims.
- The Globe cites experiences from women who once worked for ESPN, including Sarah Walsh, who tried to hide her pregnancy from the company and went on the air while going through a miscarriage, and Adrienne Lawrence, who claimed that ESPN's veteran anchor John Buccigross sent her shirtless photos and spread rumors that the two had a relationship. Lawrence reported him to the company, but it rejected her complaint as meritless after investigating the matter.
- Lawrence plans to sue the network in federal court, says USA Today.
Sexual harassment is often thought of as misconduct committed by someone with power over another. A boss-subordinate encounter or an older more influential person in pursuit of a younger, unwilling employee usually comes to mind. But a recent survey by Fairygodboss, a career community for women, found that 70% of alleged harassers are under 40 and, they're often the accusers' peers. That means these issues are more deeply ingrained in an organization than in simply one department or person.
Employers likely have policies, procedures and training to address sexual misconduct, but they need to assess their culture at all levels within the organization. Policies made and actions taken should reflect the wider culture at an organization, Jonathan Segal, partner at Duane Morris LLP, told HR Dive in an interview last month.
A common complaint among accusers is that employers often ignore their claims. HR managers must immediately follow up on allegations with investigations that include interviews with accusers and possible witnesses. Employers must have a reporting procedure in place that encourages people to come forward with their claims and that removes the fear of retaliation.