#136 Ending Sexual Harassment: Claire Cain Miller

The fight against sexual harassment was the hot topic in Hollywood at the Golden Globes Awards, with outspoken and inspiring remarks by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and others. But allegations of bullying or inappropriate behavior by powerful men are still being made almost every day.

 

Despite widespread outrage, little focus has been given to effective measures that can be taken by employers to reduce the number of cases and improve the workplace environment.

Our guest is journalist Claire Cain Miller, who writes about gender, families and the future of work for The Upshot, a New York Times site that covers policy and economics. She tells us what works and explains the challenges ahead in the fight for gender equality and respect. 

A recent survey found that nearly half of women said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment at work at least once in their careers. A 2015 study revealed that only one-quarter to a third of women who experience sexual harassment report it.

Solutions:
Empower bystanders to act, giving everyone the tools to help prevent harassment. Bystander training is still rare in corporate America, but it has been effectively used in the military and on college campuses.  In some cases, direct action may work. One example was Charles Sonder, in the Snackman case, who disrupted a fight on a New York subway train by standing between a couple and loudly eating chips. 

Other examples of how to disrupt harassment: Drop a book, ask the victim to come to a conference room or if they want to get coffee. Talk to the victim to make sure she is OK, You might say: “I noticed that happened. Are you alright with that?”

Encourage civility:  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission designed a program to create a culture of respect for everyone, such as spotlighting contributions by people who are marginalized. The program also offers helpful things to say in situations when you want to act but don’t know what to do.

Claire Cain Miller says frequent workplace training programs can help. Employees and managers should be encouraged to report harassment. Professor Ian Ayres of Yale Law School has written "information escrows"-- creative and safer ways to help harassment victims who may fear that reporting wrongdoing to harm their careers. 

Among other potential solutions: Gender equity with more women in senior executive positions; greater diversity in occupations now dominated by either men or women; generous workplace and family leave policies.

#125 The Harvey Weinstein Sex Scandal: What Next? Anne Thompson

The public downfall of film boss, Harvey Weinstein raises deep questions about the culture of Hollywood and its longstanding tolerance of sexual misbehavior by powerful men.

Rumors about Weinstein's outrageous behavior had been an open secret in Hollywood for years. But Weinstein, a king of independent film, was able to cow the media, and had the power to break the careers of any women who dared go public with complaints.

All that changed recently when a New York Times investigation uncovered dozens of allegations that Weinstein had engaged in rampant sexual harassment. A deeply reported article in The New Yorker included additional accounts of coercive behavior and sexual assaults on the part of the studio chief.

Anne Thompson, Editor-at-Large for the movie-news site, Indiewire, is our guest. Anne is a veteran entertainment journalist who has worked for the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and Entertainment Weekly. She's the author of the book, "The $11 Billion Year: From Sundance to The Oscars."

This episode looks at why so many women spoke out now and outlines ways that the entertainment business—and other industries—can become less tolerant of abuse. We look at the explosive growth of the #metoo movement on social media and examine tools victims can use to fight back. Thompson argues that it is possible to change Hollywood's abusive culture and that the Weinstein scandal provides an opportunity for change.