The more common sexual misconduct

Sexual misconduct awareness is arguably the story of 2017. Men of renown or in public service have been called on the carpet for past misdeeds, almost always losing their jobs or status. Yet, the more common stories are the countless male managers, supervisors or peers in a host of industries, retail stores, restaurants, manufacturing plants et al, who have preyed on women (and men) simply because the victims were powerless.

On Friday, a story hit the airwaves about Ford manufacturing plants where managers sexually assaulted and harassed female workers. Several allowed a culture of sexual harassment to occur and be perpetuated by peer male workers. A couple of examples stuck with me. A woman starting work would hear “fresh meat” being yelled at her by her male peers as she walked into the plant. Another woman said she had to sleep with her boss to get a schedule that would permit her to drop off and pick up her child from daycare.

For every Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Bill Cosby or Donald Trump, there are thousands of men who abuse their power and sexually harass women every day. The women have little choice as the jobs that pay the same are scarce. Or, they may be working for the main employer in a small town. So, many have to make a decision to acquiesce to a manager, put up with that environment or leave. Reporting the issue to HR may prove futile or backfire on the woman, especially if the employer has more clout in a small town.

Fortunately, more voices are being heard. We are at a tipping point, but it will have to be a long game to make the needed dramatic impact. As citizens, we must hold our leaders accountable. It matters not what tribe they belong to, meaning political party. As employees, we must not perpetuate or condone a sexual harassing environment, nor can we remain silent if we know of sexual assault.

The “times they are a changin” sang a Nobel prize winning songwriter in the 1960s. It could be sung now as well. But, maybe the anthem from a female songwriter from the early 1970s should be loudly vocalized. Helen Reddy sang, “I am woman hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore.” Amen, sister.

8 thoughts on “The more common sexual misconduct

  1. Note to Readers: After posting this, I saw a PBS Newshour report on the Ford issue, first reported by The New York Times. A couple of female former Ford employees noted that when a few women reported “upstairs” what was happening, the men knew what the women had done before they got back on the line. Some women were moved to more difficult assignments. The former employee said women learned that it was better to take the harassment or leave. The other issue noted by the NYT reporter is Ford thought the concerns were episodic, while the women felt it was a systemic problem.

    One final note, PBS noted that 1/3 of women polled said they had been sexually harassed. I wonder if that percent is too low due to underreporting.

  2. This is shameful news.
    These are not the actions of Real Men, unfortunately with the creature occupying the Whitehouse there will be little leadership and the fight will have to come from the ranks.

    • Roger, agreed. The President’s election shows you can get away with sexual assault with enough faux bluster and accusation. Talk about your fake news. I used to consult with many retail and banking clients, and these companies were at risk of employee litigation due to fiefdoms across the country run by a bullying store or branch manager and a high percentage female work force. A big box store who employees 125 employees may be the biggest employer in a small town. Not unrelated is the losing Senate candidate Roy Moore had a lot of power as DA in a small Alabama town.

      There is a great movie, probably her best, with Charlize Theron called “North Country,” about one of the first class action sexual harassment cases in North America about female workers at a mining company. Keith

      • Sadly the corrupt local official and their clan are one of the banes of Life throughout history.
        It was at its worse in the UK during earlier eras, now the evil has transmitted into the workplace.
        The only solution would appear to be courageous determined folk (as in ‘North Country’) and a robust legal system.

  3. Dear Keith,

    These guys are into power and they target the mos vulnerable. They take advantage of peoples who need their jobs and who don’t have the option to just quit.

    I remember a 1980 movie ” Nine to Five” staring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Dabney Coleman. My favorite part is what they did to the boss in the movie. That is every women’s fantasy.

    After the recent NYT expose` the Ford CEO Mr. Hackett is promising to end this culture of sexual harassment at their Chicago Ford plants. But complaints and multi-million dollars in lawsuit payouts have been SOP since the 1990’s. He is going to have to answer the question, how is this time different?

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, apparently Ford tried to fix a problem in the 1990s and it got better temporarily, but then it became worse. If the culture is allowed to fester, it is difficult to change. I reference the movie “North Country” with Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand to Roger. The mining facility had a culture that was allowed to fester and the jobs paid better than other employers, so they had to tolerate it. Theron was called evil things in her son’s school due to the power of the mining company. Keith

  4. Note to Readers: Harassment need not be sexual to be demeaning. I am aware of several situations where the manager was a jerk to all subordinates, including women. One was a CEO, one was a successful sole practitioner and the other was a subject matter expert. The latter two were given multiple opportunities to change, but were eventually let go, The CEO went to counseling, but after that proved unsuccessful over time. So, the Board had to move him out.

    It is possible to move harassers out, but it does take effort. Sexual harassment and assault elevate the urgency to act, but need diligent support behind the accuser. The more siccessful the accused, the more leeway has been given. But, that has to change. Weinstein was tolerated because he made money. That was a shame that he was aided by blind eyes and sycophants.

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