Monday, July 30, 2018

John Oliver and Anita Hill on fixing our workplace sexual harassment problem

When Anita Hill testified during Justice Clarence Thomas's confirmation hearing almost 27 years ago, the thought was that her story might be the beginning of the end of sexual harassment as a workplace problem. That clearly did not happen.

The #MeToo movement has now, once again, brought sexual harassment to forefront.

Last night, John Oliver tackled the issue on his HBO show.

The piece ended with an 11-minute conversation with Anita Hill. She had some very interesting thoughts on how we can have a meaningful discussion about beginning to end workplace harassment.

John Oliver: Historically whenever sexual harassment comes to the fore in culture it seems like we think about it just long enough to feel like we've addressed it but not quite long enough to actually address it. What are the ways that we can tackle the problem of workplace harassment?

Anita Hill: Well, one of the things that we need to do to change the culture and actually convince people you know we're serious about it is to publicize the policies and to inform people this is what happens if you file a complaint, here are the things that you will do, here are the questions that you will face, here is the process. I also think that there are some management things that we can do. We, for example, can do bystander training because I still some of them are saying, "Wow I don't know what to do."

John Oliver: Let's talk about men's role regarding trying to fix sexual harassment. Do men have a role in that discussion?

Anita Hill: At this point in time there are no innocent bystanders. If you are aware of something, you acknowledge it, you know it's wrong, but you don't do anything about it, then it's the same as participating in it.

Will this be the point in the time when we, as a collective of employers and employees, finally minimize this scourge? Only time will tell. One thing I know for sure is that we stop talking about the problem, we greatly minimize our chances of success. So let's keep the discussion going, so that we aren't having another "how do we stop workplace harassment" conversation 27 years from now.