I spoke with a good friend the other day, and he shared with me how amazed he was at the size of the response to the #MeToo hashtag. It took me by surprise because this person seems to be so on top of everything. I explained that harassment of some kind has always been a part of the workplace for women.
In the recent past women have been uncomfortable talking about sexual harassment because there was so much for them to lose including their job, coworker trust, and promotions to name just a few. Social media has opened up an avenue for women to magnify their individual experiences so others can begin to see this as a significant issue and not dismiss it.
After thinking about his comments, I recognize there are many other men who were in the ‘dark’ and now are beginning to understand sexual harassment is much more common than they ever realized. Unfortunately, it is only one of many issues women deal with in the workplace and beyond.
How about stepping forward to tell your manager someone is taking credit for your work – and not being labeled overly sensitive? Or evaluating whether it is safe to go to a meeting after work by yourself – likely excluding you from the networks that help you get your work done? Oh, then you find out your male peer who is doing the same job as you is making a bundle more – do you raise your voice and risk being labeled a troublemaker? There are so many ways women are excluded, often unintentionally.
It is a herd of elephants in the room, not just one elephant with ‘sexual harassment’ on it’s back. It’s a systemic herd of elephants that we need to begin to get our head around. To start to understand how big the problem is, we need to take a step back to look at some of our basic beliefs about women.
For society to move forward to get to a better place it requires us to think about our beliefs around women and the roles they/we have played in the past. Ask women what they are interested in doing instead of assuming they won’t be or are not qualified. Don’t make assumptions, be candid and ask.
As women, we need to be much more proactive with what we want. Often I limited myself to thinking only of what I already saw in the world. Today there is so much more information available so we can think about many different options.
What you think about matters. Think about what you want and move forward each day with something that moves you in that direction.