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You are the new CEO of a large, well-known company. It has been deemed that an occupational hazard of your company is sexual harassment, physical and sexual assault, and rape of both men and women, in part, because there tends to be consequences for the victims but not the perpetrators. Describe in detail one concrete action you would take to end this culture in your organization and why it is important to do so.

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The best way to approach this is to start with the final issue of why one should take action. Obviously, sexual misconduct harms the company in several ways including opening up the potential for lawsuits and reputational risk (as recently exemplified by the travails of Uber). Another major issue though is its effect on human resources. Recruiting highly skilled workers is extremely competitive and a company which has a reputation as a place with a toxic workplace culture will not be able to attract the top talent.

The first thing to note is that this company seems to have a large number of women reporting incidents of sexual harassment. Given widespread under-reporting, if 20 percent of women report having experienced sexual harassment, the actual incidence may be much higher.

Since change starts at the top, probably the most important change one can make is empowering women in the company by promoting women on all levels. Sexual harassment reflects power inequalities. A company with a dominantly straight, white, male leadership is one which disempowers women and minorities. By working towards gender equality, in which half of the Board of Directors, the executive suite, and upper management is female, the company would create a more diverse workforce where a culture of sexual harassment was less prevalent. An immediate step in this direction might be identifying top female talent in your company and starting to mentor and groom outstanding women managers to be promoted to executive roles.

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