Sexual Harassment: Enough Is Enough

October 18, 2017 — I recently gave a speech where I called for organizations to adopt a “zero tolerance policy” for practices and behaviors that marginalize women—all the inertia that pushes men forward into leadership while pushing women out of the way—and challenged men to step up and be counted as champions of gender equality.

When I returned to my seat, I was approached by a man from the audience—let’s call him “Joe”—who wanted to share his story. Joe told me that early on in his career, one of his top performers—let’s call him “Ted”—was being accused of sexual harassment. As a new executive, Joe felt that the performance of his business unit was more important than holding his “star” Ted accountable for his actions. Joe protected Ted and in his words, literally “paid the woman to go away and stay quiet.” Years later, another man who had been Joe’s protégé faced similar allegations. This time when asked by his company’s chair of the board what they should do, Joe replied, “He had to go.”

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