I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t constantly worry about leading in the #MeToo era. I often wonder what I would do if an allegation was made under my watch or in an organization that I’ve aligned myself with? As the events of Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey, Governor Cuomo, and many more have continued to overflow, we’ve seen multiple reactions come from every region in society. Most have conveyed an overwhelming display of shock and disgust, but the widespread exposure of these particular high-profile examples is just a snapshot of the typical behaviors many men and women are subject to every day in their workplaces across the globe.
Sniffing out sexual harassment in our own organizations is possible. I compare it to getting a small whiff of something foul-smelling. Sometimes it’s so small when it begins that you doubt that you’ve even smelled it all. Sometimes it stays very subtle until you uncover a large pile of dead rats festering in the walls. It is our responsibility as people and especially leaders to hold everyone above or below us accountable.
It’s what we do when the whiff of foul air hits our nostrils that matters most.
Let’s stop and imagine for a moment the emotional trauma that someone who is the victim of sexual harassment goes through. Even better, check out Angela’s story in “5 Devastating Truths Organizations Should Know About Sexual Harassment.”
Stories of brave men and women that have been victims of sexual harassment are what’s changing the world–we must hear every story and see every person. I firmly believe that stories have the power to change lives.
As leaders, we must never fail to act and express our intolerance for such actions on a consistent basis. Here are 7 effective leadership methods that leaders must adopt in the #MeToo era.
- Trust your intuition. One cockroach is often evidence of many more, and small issues can quickly grow into something bigger. Nip bad behavior in the bud. Look for the warning signs and do some probing. If it sounds like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s definitely not a cow. Guess what, it’s a duck! Follow your intuition and find ways to foster trust with your employees.
- Empower your teams to have small group conversations. I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Stories are powerful tools in organizations. Empower your teams and leaders to talk about harassment prevention in a casual setting. Don’t make it something people are afraid to talk about and leaders need to make sure to denounce sexual harassment before it happens.
- Don’t buy into the lie. Well, he’s a family man; or she’s a woman; or but they’re so nice; or I just can’t see him or her doing it, so it can’t be true–these mentalities are blinders to the truth. Unfortunately, many of those who have gotten away with sexual harassment have been people who were unsuspecting because of their position or family. Business leaders should always be dedicated to finding the truth above all.
- Implement the practice of talking about it in on-boarding. Make sure that your HR teams set the tone in on-boarding for each and every new hire and/or put every new hire through sexual harassment awareness training.
- Hold a leadership summit to increase awareness. Leadership teams must be empowered, and trained to identify warning signs in order to make the right calls. Organizations have to take sexual harassment seriously, and commit to being part of the solution. #notonmywatch
- Cultivate an ecosystem that expels sexual harassment. Organizations can cultivate these types of communities by raising the standard and calling out bad behavior regardless of rank.
- Develop an alcohol policy. Be vigilant when alcohol is served at company events and outlaw inappropriate behavior from ALL who attend.