Sexual harassment in the workplace is an incredibly relevant topic with widespread discussion evolving from the #MeToo anti-harassment movement. We are continuing the global conversation at DHG as we set expectations for workplace behavior and solidify a culture of respect to ensure that all of our people have what they need to progress and build their own valuable careers.
Last month we hosted an anti-harassment panel discussion that was streamed live across our DHG locations. Titled “#MeToo – Leadership Perspectives on the Current Movement and DHG’s Culture of Respect,” the session featured insight from four DHG leaders as well as a Q&A with our DHG audience. With so many important points made, I wanted to share some of these key takeaways with you.
To me, it’s not only about DHG fostering an equal environment that defines boundaries and builds valuable careers, it is also the responsibility of each of us to educate ourselves on what harassment is and to have open and honest dialogue about it. There is a reason that people come first in our mission statement, and we want all of our people to be treated fairly and to have a voice in this important and dynamic conversation.
Excerpts: #MeToo – Leadership Perspectives on the Current Movement and DHG’s Culture of Respect
Nathan Clark (Partner), Effin Logue (Chief People Officer), Matt Snow (CEO) and Nikki Yarborough (Partner)
Effin Logue, Chief People Officer: “We want to continue to have people find their voice and continue to speak up and say ‘Hey, no more for us.’ However, I do worry. You know, this is a pendulum swing and with most pendulums, things tend to swing too far the other way and then swing back and then they start to normalize. I’m concerned about backlash in a number of areas. One, I’m concerned about things like discrimination – that harassment is going to be stopped and discrimination is going to come back in.”
“Here’s how that can show itself. For example, we have a male partner who is now very concerned about the #MeToo movement, not looking or acting or having anyone think that this person might be trying to sexually harass someone. So he stops bringing a female colleague to lunch for a coaching session but he would feel comfortable bringing a male employee to lunch. That’s where, even though he may avoid any risk now of potential harassment, it’s swinging the pendulum toward discrimination, and we absolutely do not want to see that at DHG. Bring people to lunch, do coaching sessions, do one-on-ones, do groups or figure out a way to make it happen so that people are coached and developed equally and we don’t stop that positive team building behavior.”
“I’m also worried about the pendulum swinging a little too far the other way, where everyone is overly sensitive about every comment, every gesture, and every look. Last October, we attended the AICPA Women’s Global Leadership Summit and there was a speaker who said something I thought was fantastic. She said, ‘You can always suspend your right to be offended,’ and I’d like to say, let’s be super aware of our behavior but let’s also know we can suspend our right to be offended by something someone says because hey, I know it comes from a good place. I know that person and I am not offended by them even though someone else might have been and let’s keep the conversation going.”
Matt Snow, CEO: “I think reporting is one of the most interesting parts about this movement - you’re seeing the fear of reporting, whether it’s, ‘How does this impact my career, am I going to be in trouble? Am I going to hurt someone else?’ There are all these things to go through and I want everyone to know that if you’re aware of harassment, whether it’s you or someone else, we have a responsibility to report it and my commitment to the firm and to all of us is we will thoroughly but fairly investigate all of these. That, in my opinion, really helps accelerate our own movement with #MeToo.”
Nikki Yarborough, Partner and Inclusion & Diversity Council Co-Leader: “I think of respect as two dimensions. Number one being self-respect. I think that’s foundational. We must know who we are and we must be authentic. We need the courage to stand up and be who we are, but we also have to understand our biases; we have to understand all that goes through our head and how it’s going to impact others. The second part is having respect for others. Treating each other well, listening, seeking to understand and just doing the right thing. So, that is all about respect for others and again, really understanding the impact we have on each other. Personally, I do not think men and women have different roles in the #MeToo movement or in DHG's culture of respect. I think we each have the same role. We may display it differently, we may handle it differently, but we each have the same role in building our culture of respect.”
Nathan Clark, Partner: “I solicited feedback from women I’ve worked with over the years, and I simply asked them, ‘What would you want men to know about creating a culture of respect?’ Many began to volunteer their own stories of their experiences with harassment or gender biases. Until they were empowered, I guess by #MeToo, they didn’t feel they could talk about it or they didn’t feel comfortable enough to share. It’s become much more common. I think everyone’s just realizing it happens on a more regular basis.”
“One other thing I’ll suggest is that we watch offensive behavior in communications. Whether it’s inappropriate comments or jokes, even if it doesn’t offend the people around you, which you can’t be absolutely certain it won’t, you don’t know who will repeat it and it could be offensive elsewhere.