For my capstone paper to the MJ-LEL program, I researched information and submitted the “An Exploration of the Effect of the “MeToo Movement on Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Workplace, Litigation and Legislation”. This proved to be an amazing topic to end my program journey on especially high note. I found so much material and learned so many new things that added to my core both personally and professionally. When I say core – I mean things that inspire me and reflect my personal values and mission.
My paper explored the effect #MeToo movement on U.S. society, culture and legislation after Harvey Weinstein was publically exposed as serial sexual harasser of numerous women over the course of decades. I also touched upon how common the story was among women and the common fear they faced from coming forward. What touched me the most understanding the common agreements that companies used daily in their employment interactions were used as shield to cover up and enable bad actors to continue creating a toxic environment for so many generations. I learned that the power dynamics favorable to men were not just about equal pay or promotion opportunities in the workplace but, was systematic tool of oppression and suppression.
My paper did not explore the inequities in the approach based on economics or race. I did uncover research that suggested that the #MeToo movement’s popularity and viral status was simply because it centered around white women as preys to wealthy men in high powered or authoritative positions. That was powerful to me to learn that the movement was not started by a tweet from celebrity in 2017 but by a black activist in 2006. Due to page limits, I could only very briefly address the movement’s effect on the rest of the world. A huge miss – that would have resulted in a 30-page thesis to say the least. However, in truth as a black female in the United States – and one who was also subjected to workplace sexual harassment – by lawyers – it was not about race but that it was happening – and permitted to happen. The U.S. must do more to add more protections to encourage people – not just women to report sexual misconduct. Today as a HR professional that regularly reviews employee concerns – domestically and internationally - this research has reignited me to demonstrate greater empathy and support and to give more thought into the reports I receive about sexual harassment, gender discrimination and pay inequities.