Having women in leadership positions has been shown to be good for business profitability, better understanding consumers, encouraging women to rise the ranks and more, but could it also be one way to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace?
It certainly couldn't hurt.
Sexual harassment is a rampant problem in the workplace, one that has come to light time and time again in recent months. It's a big problem that costs companies millions in lost productivity, lawsuits and personnel. That's just the fiscal cost; not to mention the immeasurable toll it can take on victims.
So, what can be done to combat sexual harassment in the workplace? A lot of productive suggestions have come to light in the wake of the recent wave of allegations. Promoting more women to leadership positions and on boards of advisors is a great idea. New York City is also considering requiring businesses to conduct sexual harassment training, although some have suggested that training can backfire by reinforcing gender stereotypes or focusing on limiting employer liability rather than protecting victims.
Perhaps more than anything, changing company cultures will be key -- making it easier and safer to report harassment, whether you are the victim or someone who witnesses it happening to a coworker. Despite the high numbers of people who report having experienced or seen harassment, many people don't report it due to a fear of not being believed or hurting their careers. And these fears have been proven out. No policies, promotions or training will help the situation unless company cultures support it as well.
There is certainly a lot more that can and should be done to tackle what could easily be classified as an epidemic in the workplace. We'll be discussing all this and more at our upcoming Women in Comms breakfast event in Denver. It's not too late to register and join us for what will be an insightful morning of discussion, networking and change making. (See Harassment in the Workplace.)
Register here to join Women in Comms; our partners, including Matrixx Software Inc. , VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY) and Parallel Wireless Inc. ; and our speakers Susan Friedman, Senior Marketing Programs Manager, Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), Heather Gold, President & CEO, Fiber Broadband Alliance, Judy Brown, Senior Field Engineering Business Analyst, Charter Communications Inc. and Liza Adams, Senior Marketing Executive. Come for the networking breakfast event, and be sure to stay for the co-located Cable Next-Gen Technologies conference. We look forward to seeing you all there.
— Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms