Sexual Harassment: the Crisis That Never Goes Away

 
 

Women thought they had reached some sort of milestone back in 1991, when Anita Hill’s testimony at the Clarence Thomas hearing exposed the pervasive nature of sexual harassment in the workplace. Since then, think of all the money and hours spent in sexual harassment training in all kinds of workplace environments. And yet – despite court rulings and millions awarded to victims – this particular problem never seems to go away, and too many businesses never seem to get the message.

 

Basic bottomline: predators will not stop being predators.

 

Warnings, threats, “counseling,” ultra-final warnings, will not change their compulsive and repulsive behavior. Many years ago, I worked with a law firm that had a problem partner. He was accused of sexual harassment, but he was a major talent and rainmaker at the firm, so the victim was paid off, he was warned and business continued as usual. Of course, he did it again and this time the firm finally had to let him go, most likely after another even bigger payoff. It’s worse the second time because management cannot claim they didn’t know what kind of man he was. The lawyer in question set up his own firm, and I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that he continues to plague his female employees to this day.

Fox News is another howling example of how not to run a business. Sexual harassment seems to have been a way of life at Fox News from the very top of the chain of command. Sexual propositions from Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly were only the worst of it. The entire philosophy of the company was aimed at demeaning professionals and turning them into purely sexual objects, forced to wear filmy cocktail dresses and high heels to work. And then there is Harvey Weinstein and the cascade of callouts and dismissals of prominent executives that followed.

Really, folks, this has to stop. A business is not a brothel, and women (and men) are there to do a job, not for the entertainment of the bosses. Does this really need to be said in 2017? Take a look at Uber if you want to understand how wide and deep this kind of scandal can be! Even before all the dirt came out, my oldest daughter demanded that I never use Uber because the CEO was a loudmouthed, out-and-proud womanizer.

Patricia Bernstein