How #MeToo Has Helped Women Get Promotions

One year after publication of the detailed report on Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults and harassment, a study found that women are replacing the powerful men forced to step down after accusations of sexual misconduct. A recent New York Times article notes that during the past year “200 prominent men have lost their jobs after public allegations of sexual harassment. A few, including Mr. Weinstein, face criminal charges.” Women have replaced nearly half of these high-profile men:

  • One-third are in news media.
  • One-quarter are in government.
  • One-fifth are in entertainment and the arts.
The article explains that many challenges still remain in eradicating sexual harassment in the workplace:
  • Federal law still does not fully protect many groups of working women.
  • A strong backlash against the #MeToo movement, as seen in the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, has emerged. Americans disagree on how people should be held accountable and what the standards of evidence should be.
  • New workplace policies have little effect without deeper cultural change.
  • Appointing a woman does not guarantee change. Women have also been accused of harassment.
  • Women are still vastly underrepresented in leadership at American institutions.
As women get promoted into positions of power thanks to the #MeToo movement, they have the potential to change their workplace cultures. The New York Times article summarizes research and experiences showing that women lead differently:
  • Women tend to create more respectful work environments where sexual harassment is less likely to happen and where women are more comfortable reporting it.
  • Women leaders tend to hire and promote more women and pay them more equitably.
  • Research shows that having women in leadership makes companies more profitable. Women bring life experience and perspective to decision making that better reflects the majority of consumers, resulting in higher profits.
  • In government, women are more collaborative and bipartisan. Senator Tina Smith, who replaced Al Franken in the Senate when he was forced to step down by the #MeToo movement, reports that all twenty-three female senators meet for dinner monthly. They find that their success depends upon being able to work together to sponsor bipartisan legislation.
  • In the news media and entertainment, the tone and substance of programming has changed significantly when women stepped into leadership.
  • Women’s personal experiences, including as mothers, can make workplaces more welcoming to other women.
There is a lot of potential for change resulting from the #MeToo movement started by Tarana Burke. But we must remain vigilant. The backlash is strong from both women and men. Some men accused of sexual harassment and forced to step down are reappearing without making amends or taking responsibility for what they did or the organizational cultures they created. All of our gains could be lost if we do not stay focused on creating more respectful, equitable, and inclusive workplaces that hold people accountable for bad behavior. What has worked in your organization?     Photo courtesy of VisualHunt (CC0 1.0)]]>

Leave a Comment