The tumultuous times in which we live are awash with MeToo disclosures, cases and media coverage. Long-kept stories and current examples surface by people who wish to finally be heard.
The MeToo discussion is taking on global spins. For example, in Japan, victims are often blamed for their plight and shamed instead of supported. A group of victims-to-activists, including Monica Fukuhara and Shiori Ito, launched #WeToo Japan in February this year after determining widespread support is needed to go beyond the self-identification of victims in the Me Too movement started in the U.S. last year.
“By using ‘We Too’ instead, we show greater solidarity. We are letting victims know they’re not alone and that we listen and support, making it easier to speak up,” Fukuhara said. “Since Japanese society has some sort of prejudice against victims, it’s difficult for women to raise their hands and say ‘Me Too.’ ”
There, several of the cases of abuse submitted to the courts were consistently turned down on the argument the court would not try “He Said She Said” cases. One woman who had her case set aside would not take no for an answer. Tenaciously, she researched and found other victims who had been accosted by the same executive as had she. They filed collectively and the court finally addressed the case.
The statistics are unsettling in the U.S. Marilyn Nagel, our expert in this area, notes case
increases that give one pause.
As professionals in companies, we have responsibilities to create and maintain environments where people work unfettered by hostility, harassment, abuse and fear of repercussions when calling bad behavior out.
How do we ensure our work world stands for “NEVER HERE”?*The fundamental steps are generally understood.
Establish a Never Here policy. As part of an overall code of conduct policy, clarify the details of your zero tolerance, make known what resources are available should any transactions be noted, the duties of disclosure, the actions for investigation, the protection of those who report.
Have all employees, contractors and suppliers sign that they have read and will follow the policy. It is best to not settle for a “one-time” signature. New employees have masses of papers they sign when they get on board. It is not the time for focus on this cultural standard. Have all people who work in or with your company sign a renewal every year.
Train all on what this means. Set the boundaries, clarify acceptable from what is not. Everyone at every level in the organization has rights and duties. Make sure people know what to do. Open the discussion so people understand with example and set expectations.
Include this topic in board reviews. Add a metric to your company performance review and discuss your results relative to holding a zero count on incidents. Make discussions about efforts and cases transparent.
The tougher challenge goes much deeper. A colleague asked recently if I believe we are making progress given this movement. Taking history into account, probably. At various times, we have decisions that transforms our beliefs. Once, cannibalism was acceptable. Then, it was not. Later, slavery was acceptable. Then, is was not. Abuse has been accepted. Now, it is under scrutiny. At every step along the way, we refine our definition of what we mean to be human.
While many people are tired of the time it is taking for us to evolve on this issue, I suspect this was true of slaves and earlier victims as well. It is another step along Martin Luther King’s long arc of the morale universe.
Can we speed it up? For me, it depends on if we rewire ourselves.
It seems there has been – and continues to be – a pattern of “Less Than*.” That is, there is a deep driving force within that says “You/They are less than me. I am entitled to eat you, enslave you, abuse you because I am superior. “ To be significant, someone must be inferior.
Whatever in our human psyche convinces us of this is in our way. If we continue holding on to “Less Than” the long arc will lay stretched ahead.
Imagine, instead, if we believe we are only entitled to become “More Than” who we are today by working on ourselves and by appreciating others. Borrowing from individual sports, we ALL work to continuously beat our personal best.
It’s a mighty leap, although the new neuroscientists provide some hope that we can change our minds and create new material realities.Until then, “More Than” is my mantra. Care to join in?
If you seek professional assistance, we provide practices and programs to help. Feel free to call us!
Marilyn Nagel for the idea to frame the policy as Never Here.
Grant Itokazu for his discerning ideas about Less and More.
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