22 Jan Is Your Company at Risk of a Sexual Harassment Suit?
Is Your Company at Risk of a Sexual Harassment Suit?
Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey… giants of the entertainment world, felled by charges of sexual harassment in the workplace. The same kind of charges that have called the political careers of Ray Moore and John Conyers into question. And, while it doesn’t make the headlines, sexual harassment is also taking its toll on individual lives and cutting short promising careers in businesses large and small, in fast food restaurants and Fortune 500 companies.
“It’s happening everywhere and it’s everybody’s responsibility,” says Aimee Kaye, president and CEO of Sageview Consulting, a human resources and executive search firm serving the needs of high-profile organizations and nonprofits nationwide. “If you’re an organization that wants to succeed, you have to pay attention to these things.”
Before founding Sageview in 2003, Kaye spent two decades as the highest-ranking human resources executive at Madison Square Garden. The harassment training programs she helped to develop and now offers to clients grew out of her own experiences during the years she spent surrounded by the professional athletes, national broadcasters and privileged executives associated with the NY Knicks, NY Rangers, Madison Square Network, Madison Square Garden Arena and Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, The Rockettes and the Hartford Civic Center.
“With these high-profile guys, it’s all about power. They believe the rules don’t apply to them,” she says. “And nobody’s holding them accountable.”
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Preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, Kaye explains, requires a two-pronged approach. Educating the organization’s employees and managers about the steps they should take if there’s an issue of harassment is the first step. The other side of it – the side that is neglected far too often – pertains to the highest profile people in the organization. “Whether they are star athletes, movie stars or C-suite executives, these people are your assets,” Kaye says. “They are also the people most likely to sexually harass your employees.”
It is the responsibility of the human resources department to protect the organization, to protect the organization’s employees and, Kaye stresses, to protect the organization’s assets. “If your human resources people are afraid to stand up for the employees, regardless of who the offender is, then you have the wrong HR people,” she says.
If your organization is serious about preventing sexual harassment, Kaye says it is important that your top performers – the people who represent your brand – understand that they have a lot on the line, too. As an example, Kaye says, “Take Harvey Weinstein. Nobody will even go to dinner with him now. He may have a lot of money, but he destroyed his life.”
Kaye applauds the women who are coming forward to share their stories. “It’s great that women are finding their voice and coming forward,” she says. “And, if you create the right atmosphere in your organization, they’ll come to you instead of going to the media.”
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