We have seen this campaign before in various forms over the past two decades - the demand for equal pay and appropriate work environments. The reiterations always move the conversation forward a bit and result in at least some level of change. However, after a while, our focus moves away to attend to other business concerns. It's not that we forget; we just believe the system will change now that we've tweaked a policy or two and provided more training.
The #MeToo movement has been marching toward workplaces for decades. Now that it has arrived, how will our businesses react? Will we take the same policy and training approach? Or will we advocate for more? Do our actions demonstrate that we value work environments free from sexual harassment and similar power dynamics? Or do we simply say we do? The choice is in the hands of our workers and employees, but requires bold leadership and conscious action.
Willingness to Accept Being Broken
Key to systemic change is accepting that many of our work environments are, in fact, broken and have not yet been able to be fixed. Our culture of "talk" seems to always reflect a desire to achieve the best and be perfect, but the character of our workplaces is not created by words. It is our choice in consistent action over a period of time that creates our character. So we have to ask ourselves, what exactly have we been consistent with that has resulted in businesses continuing to be the target of claims of sexual harassment and pay inequity?
Overcoming the Fear to Take Ownership
We all know it is easier to blame the other guy. It is hard to take a thorough and honest assessment of our work culture. Inevitably, a business fears the potential of creating or pointing out areas of legal exposure and does not want to tacitly admit wrongdoing. This concern is real and often impedes movement toward true systemic change. So business leaders can choose to make it very simple. We can use the #MeToo movement as a basis to re-examine where we are, identify where we want to be and take ownership of the pathway to achieve a different and better work culture.
How to Change
We can learn a great deal from others about our shortcomings or areas of deficiency - that is, if we care to ask and listen.
Honest Appraisal of Business Values
One of the areas companies have more proactively embraced in the wake of #MeToo is opening up the conduct and reputation of their leadership to more frequent and thorough scrutiny.