It’s Time To Deal With Sexual Harassment: Why #YouToo Have To Stop Being A Wimp
A contributing factor to the epidemic of sexual harassment in today’s workforce is the wimpiness of senior managers and business leaders. Harassers are often bullies. Unfortunately many managers allow themselves to be intimidated by harassers.
Managers lie to themselves thinking “it’s not that big of a deal.” Or “Courtney really is beautiful, of course she’s going to get some attention. He’s just joking.” Sometimes the harassers will make statements like “Us guys have to stick together” or “You’re thinking it too, I can tell.” The easy, wimpy thing to do is to just go along to get along.
Managers may not address it because it doesn’t affect their bonuses and they can’t see where it’s costing money in the budget. Taking such a narrow view for bonuses is self-serving. Taking such a narrow view about the budget is misguided. Sexual harassment has substantial hidden costs. Being complacent about sexual harassment has real financial implications for your company: increased costs and decreased profits.
In order to become a senior manager or business leader, you have to expertly navigate the path of being innovative while being political astute and responsive.
When you focus on not upsetting the organization at the expense of your company culture, you are taking the coward’s way out.
If a harasser makes you feel uneasy and you have power, can you imagine how much worse it is for the harasser’s coworkers and the recipient? How much is it magnified if the recipient is a subordinate? They are at the mercy of this harassing bully. Instead of looking forward to work, they dread it.
The responsibility for the first incident of sexual harassment falls 100% on the harasser. The responsibility for incidents #2 and on, falls on you as well as the harasser.
Knowing about sexual harassment without confronting or terminating the harasser is wimpy and cowardly. Senior management has an obligation (and Title VII legal responsibility) to create a safe company culture. That means doing uncomfortable things including correcting or terminating harassers.
Harassers aren’t just disrespecting the people they are harassing, their actions are a virtual middle finger to you and all other staff saying “The rules don’t apply to me!” They believe they are more important than you and entitled to special treatment.
As a leader, you are responsible for addressing sexual harassment directly. As a leader, you are responsible for calling out sexual harassers. You have to be courageous and lead your organization with bravery, fortitude, and a commitment to excellence.