January 24, 2018

What Does the #MeToo Movement Mean for your Business in 2018 and Beyond?

After all the hype over #MeToo in 2017 and recent awards shows, it is a bit shocking to me that there are still some people in my network that are simply clueless about the conversations around the movement. Most of the conversations that I’ve been having land into three categories:

  1. Literally, Me Too (let me tell my story),
  2. Let’s Blame X, Y, Z, and
  3. then there are a few that question the meaning and impact of the movement on men, relationships, women, etc. now and into the future.

There have been literally, None… Zero…. Nothing . . .no conversations about what does this movement specifically, and any of the 2017 Movements mean to our businesses. To be fair, there have been several good articles published about this, but no conversations. And that scares me!

As business owners, organizational leaders, managers and supervisors this is the question we really need to be having. What’s the so what of this movement? What needs to change as a result of this information?

Let’s start with the impact: Harvard Business Review reported that 98% of organization in the United States have a sexual harassment policy. Yet in an ABC News-Washington Post poll (that focus only on female responders) 54% of women have experienced unwanted sexual advances, with 68% of those reported it occurred in a work setting.

Just take a minute with these numbers: 66 million women are employed in the US, so nearly 36 million women are or have experienced unwanted sexual advances and over 24 million have experienced it at work. That is more than the entire population of Florida. Or the top 8 most populated cities in America.

So clearly, the nicely written, published and even posted policies are not making a significant impact within our organizations.

Perhaps even more telling about our collective approach to this, is that there are limited fact-based statistics indicating the number of employers conducting sexual harassment training for all employees. Less than half of our States require businesses to provide training on this topic, leaving it instead to a Best Business Practice in order to support the Affirmative Defense for the organization.

Where does that leave organizations of any size moving forward?

1. Silence is Not an Option: We can no longer afford to be silent on hard conversation within our organizations. We must talk the talk, be accountable and take corrective actions as necessary. Leaders can no longer only focus on one or two key areas within the organization. It is not all about customers, or all about costs . . . your people matter.

2. Organizational Culture Sets the Stage: This is an opportunity for Boards to ask tough questions about organizational culture from any and all perspectives from diversity and inclusion to trust and values. Leaders need to be prepared to create and support cultures of trust and respect, where treating employees right, allows the team and the organization to be in a better position for success the long-run.

3. Organizational Values Should Lead the Way: Trust, Respect and Transparency are all values that support culture. Leaders of organizations of any size, and in any industry, should be having the hard, open conversations about how they have identified their corporate values, and how they are using and living them across their organization. But it can’t stop there – how do they maintain the integrity of these values, and what happens when these are violated.

It is time to transform organizational cultures from efficiency and effectiveness to heart-centered, trusting and respectful organizations where everyone can thrive. It’s time to be serious about organizational culture. That’s what the #MeToo Movement means for your organization in 2018. Are you ready to move #MeToo to the next level?