"Future of gender equity relies on workplace culture" by Christina M. Tchen (Forbes)
Sexual harassment and gender inequity in the workplace are issues garnering attention not just in the entertainment industry, but across business, government, and academia. The most pressing question is why so little has changed in the decades since the Supreme Court made clear that sexual harassment violates federal law. Why do we still have a gender pay gap 54 years after the enactment of the Equal Pay Act, and why are women so underrepresented in the leadership ranks of so many companies, even as women make up nearly 50% of the US labor force?
For too long, we have viewed issues of gender and race discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity and inclusion as solely human resource topics, affecting only personnel decision-making and employment law exposure. This narrow approach has led to slow progress in achieving full integration of women and minorities into the corporate workforce and leadership in many industries, and now we see it is also putting companies at risk for deeper regulatory, compliance, litigation and governance problems. A corporate culture that fails to respect and support its employees may foment a toxic corporate culture overall: if a company management tolerates, or worse engages in, unlawful acts of sexual harassment or worse, then why would employees expect management to respect other laws and do business honestly or protect the company’s consumers?
Originally published in Forbes; reprinted with permission.