Women leaders raise $13M for legal defense fund to 'shift power imbalances'
- Women in the entertainment industry, including business leaders and celebrities, formed a legal defense fund to help people who experienced sexual misconduct find legal representation. The women are members of TIME'S UP, an organization committed to fighting power imbalances that keep women, especially women of color, unsafe and their opportunities limited in the workplace. Members have already raised $13 million for the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund.
- The TIME'S UP community, which includes entertainment executives, advisors and independent experts, created the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. College professor Anita Hill chairs the commission, which will lead the entertainment industry in particular toward creating workplaces that are fairer, safer, more equitable and accountable,especially for women and marginalized groups.
- Tina Tchen and Roberta Kaplan will head the defense fund, which the National Women's Law Center will administer and house. Lawyers will work with the center's Legal Network for Gender Equity to encourage people to come forward and get legal help.
The #MeToo movement has given people, largely women, as well as a few men, a collective voice for publicly naming their alleged abusers. The movement, founded by social activist Tarana Burke, is one force behind the changing public perception of sexual harassment and the revelation of its unfortunate ubiquity.
HR departments are officially the first line of defense against sexual misconduct in the workplace — and in organizations where they're not, they should be. A common complaint among employees with sexual harassment claims is that HR was unresponsive to their complaints. A thorough internal investigation of a claim, including any possible witnesses, should help employers decide whether discipline, termination or no action at all is necessary. Facebook recently made public its harassment policy in a bid for industry transparency, most notably claiming that the accused won't be excused by stating their behavior was only a "joke" or "not meant that way."
The common perception of sexual harassment is nonconsensual interaction between a powerful executive or manager and a younger, less powerful employee. But a recent Fairygodboss poll shows that 57% of alleged harassers are colleagues and 70% are under 40.
An audit can be a preventive measure HR managers can take to gauge and monitor sexual misconduct in their organizations. Workplaces can expect some misconduct to occur, but being proactive about uncovering it and following up with adverse action against perpetrators might curb its pervasiveness.
Employers also might consider eliminating arbitration agreements and nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) in cases of sexual harassment allegations. Companies have been criticized for using these agreements to cover up sexual misconduct by high-level executives, protect their alleged deeds from the public and pay off accusers for their silence. Bipartisan bills in Congress seek to ban the practice entirely.
- HR Dive A lack of a solid definition of sexual harassment has impeded progress, study says
- HR Dive Study: 70% of sexual harassers are under 40 and colleagues, not bosses
- PR Newswire Women Leaders Launch "TIME'S UP" Campaign to Eradicate Abuse of Power, Shift Leadership Imbalances, and Promote Equality