From Matt Lauer to Harvey Weinstein, the world has been rocked by sexual harassment allegations and revelations. And while there’s no telling whether there are more shocks to come, what’s very clear is that we still have a lot of work to do as a society to make the workplace and the world in general a safer place for everyone. Through the experiences of others there are so many lessons we can learn about missteps we’ve made and how we can correct them. Here are top lessons we can learn from the #MeToo campaign.
Victims Risk Their Reputations When They Come Forward
Whether we want to admit it or not, the things people who are brave enough to share on the workplace abuse they experienced or the fraud in the companies face is what keeps so many silent. They are humiliated, shunned and even harassed. In the case of sexual harassment, people tend to blame the victim and try to discredit them by any means necessary. This means that before the perpetrator can even face justice, the victim or witness is put through the ringer for just telling the truth. It’s so important than the men and woman who come forward in order to have protection and support of people around them. According to JF Melton Law, “Whistleblowers take great risks, so getting a reward for that risk is key. It is imperative that they have whistleblower protection to ensure a) the largest reward possible is given and b) the whistleblower is protected under the law.”
When Power Goes Unchecked, Bad Things Happen
The one thing stories like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and R. Kelly all have in common is abusers being able to get away with what they do for decades. Because these people rise to the upper echelons of society, people often turn a blind eye to their deeds, or the ones that see are threatened into silence. These unfortunately repeats the cycle of abuse, and emboldens the abuser. We have to be able to ask questions of the men and women we put up on pedestals, and take them to task when they do something wrong. If we repeatedly turn a blind eye, all that does is make them feel invincible and double down on the abuse.
We Have to Separate Talent From Character
If there’s anything we need to learn as a society it’s that an artistic genius or talented person can still be an abuser, and no matter how talented they are, they don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. In fact, the men and women we look up to as role models have to hold themselves to a higher standard. They should be examples of respect, good character and integrity, not people we let get away with anything and everything. If they decide to display horrible behavior, harassing people and destroying their lives, we as a society have to speak out against that and stop putting money in their pockets. We need to stop treating famous and powerful people as gods who can move through society with no accountability or responsibility for their negative actions.
We Need to Have More Conversations
Whether it’s at work, at universities or even in the privacy of our own homes, we have to have conversations about harassment and abuses of power. Many victims struggle to come forward because they either think they did something to ask for the abuse, or they don’t think what happened to them was an abuse of power. If we were to have more open conversation about the spectrum of abuse and how it manifests in behavior, we could raise the standards of how we treat each other. We would make it so much easier for victims to use their voices. In a lot of companies, employees have had to discuss what sexual harassment looks like and this awareness actually makes the workplace safer. We need to extend that to the whole society.
The #MeToo movement lifted the lid on so many abuses and though it wasn’t always perfect, it forced us to start having the necessary conversations that make our world safer for everyone else. When we work for companies, our safety is their responsibility, and just as our employers expect want to be sure that we have integrity when they hire us, we expect the same from them. We expect to be safe from abuse and harassment, to be treated with respect at all the time, and for any incidents of abuse to be dealt with accordingly, not swept under the rug.