The workforce is beginning to undergo long-awaited changes. No longer content with late nights and cubicles, workers are pushing for greater flexibility, more personal satisfaction and a deeper sense of culture within those office walls. Top talent is looking for open floor plans and open attitudes that celebrate diversity and the multidimensional individual. They are asking for more vacation days and more opportunities to find fulfillment outside of work. As this generation finds their voice, workplace misconduct is no longer tolerated or ignored… Over the past few weeks, major brands like McDonald’s, Sephora and even Facebook, have all come under fire for workplace misconduct and discrimination. Employees aren’t just no longer tolerating workplace misconduct, they are asking for a solution that has yet to be delivered on a wide-scale.
More than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court came to a unanimous decision, ruling that the act of sexual harassment was an infringement on an individual’s civil rights. Yet, our basic human rights are still in question. In fact, according to a recent study, more than one in three women have been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, and most of the cases go unreported.
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Thanks to the #MeToo movement, the pervasiveness of this issue is finally beginning to be understood. It is finally coming to light that beneath the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and the polished demeanor of American businesses are individuals who have used their power to debase and degrade while escaping accountability completely. Luckily, thanks to many courageous women, sexual assault in any workplace is being identified and reported. The Don Draper-style of business has lost its glamour, and there’s a demand for a new story.
The #MeToo movement is holding everyone to a higher standard, not even bystanders can turn a blind eye any longer, but the biggest challenges have fallen onto human resource staff to think outside of the box to develop more effective policies. In the past, most companies relied on a formal grievance system where victims were required to file a formal complaint, themselves. The system left victims unprotected and vulnerable to retaliation, which is a heavy factor in why only 2% to 13% of women who experience sexual harassment file a complaint. Victims are worried that their complaint won’t remain confidential and only create adverse effects on their long-term career.
Fear of retaliation is a key factor in why so few sexual harassment incidents are reported. In the event of an incident, victims have to report to either to their supervisor or HR department, leaving their report vulnerable to getting lost in the shuffle, or even fodder for office gossip. By leveraging modern technology, HR can begin to update their systems and foster a more open and active approach, empowering victims to come forward without fearing the consequences.
For example, Ariel Weindling, an employment attorney, found a way to translate his legal knowledge into a mobile app to help employees report workplace misconduct. The app stands out because it acts as an impartial liaison between the employee and management to take swift action against inappropriate behavior. The app not only symbolizes the power of technology, but it also illuminates the need to think creatively when solving an age-old problem.
Following the #MeToo movement, the country is at a formative time in which history has revealed the sheer sleaziness of humanity, but at the same time, deeper human capacity for justice, courage and rebellion. Now, there is only one choice - either put on rose-colored glasses and go back to the old way. Or, continue to fight back and say #NotMe.
Article By Ben Bloch, Managing Partner of Bloch Strategy