#MeToo is here to stay
Michelle Hege President & CEO
THE #METOO MOVEMENT HAS SWEPT THROUGH HOLLYWOOD AND POLITICS. If you think it’s going to stop short of corporate industry, think again. #MeToo has become a collective ethos within our society and has touched every community in the nation.
At DH, we are hopeful this movement is providing much-needed insight into the prevalence of sexual assault, misconduct and recognizing gender equality in the workplace. People who have long been silent have found a voice. Issues that were overlooked or hushed up are being reexamined. More and more individuals are feeling empowered.
Now is a time for organizations—particularly leadership and communications teams—to take a hard look at your culture and stated values. There’s an opportunity for all of us to become better and healthier as a result of the #MeToo movement. Here’s what you should be thinking about as #MeToo continues to spread through business in America.
1. First thing’s first. If you haven’t already, it’s a time to prepare how you’ll listen and respond to an employee coming forward with a #MeToo story. Have you put in place a way for employees to report misconduct? Do you have a game plan for how you’ll respond if public accusations are made? Be ready to respond across all your communication channels, including social media, which is frequently the place where a situation can blow up and can get out of control quickly. 2. Be ready for a crisis. By that same token, it’s always better to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Build a crisis communications plan for a scenario in which an employee comes forward with an account of sexual harassment. Communicate the policies and practices you have in place to both internal and external audiences. You’ll need to explain what you’ve done to prevent misconduct, how you handle it when it occurs and any changes you’re making as you learn and evolve. In a crisis, positive action is more important than any communication. 3. Take a look in the mirror. Most organizations profess values that abhor misconduct, but as we see too often, reality sometimes tells a different story. Consider a culture audit in which you ask employees if their experience matches your stated values. Hopefully the feedback will line up, but you’ll always find ways you can make improvements. 4. Lead by example. Leaders must embody your organizational values and be trusted figures in the office. But that doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a committed effort. Trainings alone are not enough. If you’re working to cultivate a broader culture to embody your values, consider bringing supervisors in for a culture retreat in which they can share ideas about the type of organization they want to lead, and how they can creature a culture that cultivates empowerment and accountability. Leaders have to know they have a responsibility to keep a pulse on the culture of the teams that report to them and take action when something is out of whack. 5. The importance of internal communications. All of this underscores the need for a strong internal communications program that communicates a culture of openness and empowerment across your team. Great brands are built from the inside out. A well-functioning internal communications system motivates employees to work toward common goals and values. This starts at the onboarding process and continues with regular communications to employees that showcase your organizational values and how your culture is transparent and positive.
But remember––even organizations that have a healthy culture can have instances of harassment and inappropriate behavior. Leadership and communications professionals need to be ready with a plan to help victims, correct the situation, communicate with employees, and to protect your reputation.
If you’re scratching your head about how to get started, give DH a call and we can talk about how to build leadership retreats, internal communications or response plans. Plan now for how your organization will participate in the #MeToo conversation and create a culture where misconduct has no place.