HONORABLE MENTION – Being Silent: Women (Everywhere)
Silence is no longer golden in the hills of Hollywood and beyond as a new network rises from the ashes of the Old Boys’ Club. In unprecedented numbers, men and women broke the code of silence (and their NDAs) to call out sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. And for the first time, headline names were ousted for their sexual harassment in what seems like a reckoning of public opinion. The prominent, public assertions and social media’s #metoo campaign culminated in the announcement that the Silence Breakers were picked as the #1 TIME’s Person of the Year. Although sexual misconduct is old news across industries, this new global awareness brings hope that we can change today’s workplace for good.
The consequences of leaders not dealing with harassment in the workplace are higher than ever. Known direct legal costs are marginal compared to the impact inside the workplace where productivity and engagement nosedive. A 2016 U.S. EEOC investigation on sexual harassment in the workplace found that since 2010, $698.7 million was secured for employees in the pre-litigation process (and that is separate from the estimated hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually on settlement deals).
The not-so-secret is out in government, media, entertainment, agriculture, technology, and sports. Now everyone is looking around their own workplace to see if they will be as surprised about what’s happening in the next cubicle, as we have all been by the flood of stories in the workplace that sound disappointingly similar. As the number of those impacted by sexual harassment climbs, advocacy groups emerge like Times Up that can help people across all means find justice. The call has been made and sexual harassment in the workplace is finally on the table. The effect ripples across HR Departments hearing feedback on unsafe acts, violent behavior, and harassing conduct that undermines everyone. When leadership puts people first, the financial and cultural benefits show that embracing equality is the right thing to do. So begins a social change as women quit being silent and show employees everywhere that #feedbackmatters.