Compiled by Adina Genn
Joseph N. Campolo, Esq.
Managing Partner, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP
The long overdue dialogue sparked by the #MeToo movement is not just a passing trend. In 2018, we must engage in an even deeper discussion on sexual harassment in the workplace.
The priority is to make sure that women who have been victimized are safe and able to tell their stories. I applaud and support the many women who have had the strength to come forward and call out the many men who have abused their positions of power.
However, this watershed moment also demands that we find the right balance between keeping victims safe and not overreacting when normal human behavior has occurred. While businesses must have proper procedures and training in place to create a safe workplace, it’s also important that they preserve the camaraderie and office culture that make their businesses sociable and enjoyable places to work. No one wants to work with a bunch of robots who don’t say a word out of fear that they might offend someone. Such a workplace culture would also be damaging to women, as they could lose out on promotions, projects, or mentoring relationships that involve close contact with the opposite sex, which employers may come to view as too risky.
As we continue to expose those men who use their powerful positions as a cover to disrespect women, we must also be cognizant of the fact that this swing of the pendulum has exposed innocent men to having their careers ruined by allegations that they said something inappropriate, rather than just having been friendly with someone.
Striking the right balance must be dealt with at the workplace level, and not through the courts. The unprecedented number of harassment allegations now coming to the surface will get lost in an overburdened court system; all claims, legitimate or not, will get muddled together in a judicial system that is simply unable to handle it all.
Instead, real solutions to sexual harassment in the workplace can only come from fostering an environment of collaboration and mutual respect among all employees. That means that men need to take responsibility for self-correcting their behavior as well as to stop ignoring (at best) or encouraging (at worst) when other men act inappropriately. We need to keep this dialogue open in 2018 for this national moment of reckoning to truly have a lasting impact.