BY EVE BARRETT
Sexual harassment is an epidemic that has plagued the U.S. and other countries for decades, but recent events and movements such as “Time’s Up” and #MeToo could be the triggering point for reform across all industries, specifically the industries that don’t have the benefit of being in the public limelight.
Even though sexual harassment is illegal in the U.S. and many other countries, it is still widespread, especially when it comes to the workplace. Perhaps nothing has shown this better than the crackdown on sexaul assualt and harassment in the entertainment industry. High profile people, such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, are finally being punished for their actions that have negatively impacted so many people.
The #MeToo movement, created 10 years ago by Tarana Burke but has now gotten more traction than ever and the Time’s Up movement that was created by Hollywood stars in response to the Harvey Weinstein case has brought more light to people who have experienced sexual assault. These people aren’t a small minority. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a survey in 2016 that shows that about 1 in 4 people have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace alone, Vox reports.
The question remains though: will this crackdown expand to all industries and workplaces?
Congress has finally let the public in on the sexaul harrasment going on within its walls, and lawmakers on both sides are calling for reform. The sexual harassment crackdown has also risen in the sports industry due to a court case involving ex-USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar who has recently been sentenced up to 175 years for sexual abuse.
The attention given to these industries have helped with the crackdown on sexual harassment. However, industries that aren’t constantly in the public limelight, especially those with heavily male-dominated demographics, haven’t seen the same reform. This is counterproductive because it is often these lesser-known industries that need the most reform.
Multiple news outlets have reported on the current high and unchecked levels of sexual harassment in the construction industry that the female workers have to deal with. Often times in this industry companies like Trade Off promise to investigate these sexual harassment claims, but months later nothing still has been done.The New York Daily News reports this finding when describing one female construction worker’s encounter with sexual harassment in her workplace.
The EEOC reports that the industries that do have the most sexual harassment cases are actually business, trade, banking and finance. Unfortunately, if one looks at the news none of these industries would be likely to come up in the crackdown on sexual harassment and assault.
However, that might change in the near future. The advertising industry, a industry that could be considered a mixture of the business, marketing, and entertainment industries, is the newest industry that has been changed by these sexual harassment claims. Advertising giants Publicis, Wieden + Kennedy, Martin Agency, and Droga5 have been caught up in the storm of the #MeToo movement with the recent firing of prominent people in their companies.
Wieden + Kennedy London has fired their chief strategy officer Paul Colman, a important global partner that had been with the company for over ten years. The company didn’t give the specifics regarding the firing, but said this official statement to AdWeek:
“W+K does not tolerate harassment of any kind. If harassment or inappropriate conduct is reported, a timely investigation is conducted, and if a violation is found to have occurred, appropriate corrective action is taken.”
Digiday reports that multiple people who issue sexual harassment claims have come forth about how their ad agencies have pressured them to settle with a nondisclosure agreement, often in order to keep the company image looking good. Now that #Metoo and other movements have reared themselves in their front doors, they have actually started to create change from the top-down.
For now, lawmakers are having talks about new sexual harassment laws, and some people, such as Larry Nassar, are facing serious repercussions for their actions. More and more people are advocating for reform, such as the thousands of the people in streets for January 2018’s women’s marches across the country.
People are becoming more aware of the serious problem that is sexual harassment, and awareness is often the first step in any type of movement for change. A new poll by ABC News and the Washington Post shows that 62% of people surveyed have hope that these recent developments will result in long lasting change in how the U.S. handles sexual harassment.
All industries are impacted by the epidemic that is sexual harassment. However, there is still hope that change is happening right at this moment across all industries, even those not in the public limelight.