Personally, I want to find dozens and dozens of examples of healthy high functioning organizations; and perhaps multiple CEOs will start to step up and speak out about how they make their organizations work for the benefit and well being of all employees. In the meantime, It’s essential that those that are NOT healthy be examined.
I implore you to read Gabriel Sherman’s article in New York Magazine: The Revenge of Roger’s Angels. It describes Roger Ailes role in creating what Sherman calls “…..a culture of misogyny and one of corruption and surveillance, smear campaigns and hush money, with implications reaching far wider than one disturbed man at the top.”
At this point more than two dozen women have come forward and added their names to the list of those who were sexually harassed at Fox News. And stepping up and speaking out is actually dangerous for women — still — in what has been labeled our “culture of rape.” And the impact on the women who do speak out is my focus. It’s obvious that our systems must change; and in addition, it’s important to look at how to support women.
Dismissing the issue as one where the woman involved, being harassed or in any way discriminated against, should simply speak out on her own behalf, or perhaps find a different job, is naive at best. The “historical impact” of that kind of wonderfully assertive self care — which I support whole heartedly — is sadly a history wherein the woman in question is fired, demoted, ostracized, and sometimes black balled in the industry/organizations in which she seeks employment! In fact, most working women can site examples of someone who has suffered significantly as a result of trying to act on her own behalf. Because of complex and long standing assumptions and beliefs about women and their inequality in our culture, the individual lodging the complaint is doubted. Going forward our systems have to function to support vs punish; to explore vs doubt; and to find new ways to teach girls and young women as they move through their education into the world of work, to safely assert themselves. AND, equally important, to educate boys and young men on the equality of women and men.
When that mutual education takes place and finds a home in ALL SYSTEMS it would become impossible for over 20 years of harassment and discrimination in ONE organization to continue with zero action taken against it! That reality at Fox News should make everyone of us shake our heads in disbelief. WHAT keeps people from speaking up, speaking out?
The answer to that question for many of us is basic: FEAR. So I’m simply suggesting that each of us test the history of our fear for having a VOICE. What did you learn as a kid — about saying what you think and believe and SEE happening around you? Was it to be courageous and speak out when you saw someone being mistreated or perhaps bullied? Or just to look the other way? To stay our of trouble?
What most of us learn growing up is absolutely what we carry with us into adulthood — into our own families, our own churches, our own places of employment. Power, especially when it’s being misused, scares most people — and that causes many if not most to close our eyes, and our mouths.
I’m encouraging all of us to find our OWN VOICE — to speak to the changes that need to be made to keep a powerful organization like Fox News from mistreating ANYONE! And to see how we might become a positive influence in the organizations we serve each day. Try taking a deep breath and wading in! If you do decide to speak out, do so with the support of colleagues/friends who will stand by you and back you up. When an individual confronts on her/his own, the possibility of impact is marginal….but when you have the support of other voices, something shifts and changes: the balance of power can be altered!