Tuesday, October 9, 2018

How does one measure the impact of #MeToo at its first anniversary?

It's been one year since the the New York Times reported allegations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein that started the #MeToo movement. Since, at least 425 prominent people across industries have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct.

The story, however, goes beyond the rich, and the famous, and the powerful. #MeToo has permeated every corner of our culture.

The EEOC just released its preliminary data on its handling of sexual harassment charges for its 2018 fiscal year—October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2018—a year that syncs almost too perfectly with the first year of #MeToo.

Its numbers tell a pretty compelling story about the ongoing impact of the #MeToo movement.

  • Charges filed with the EEOC alleging sexual harassment increased by more than 12 percent from fiscal year 2017.
  • The EEOC filed 41 sexual harassment lawsuits, which reflects more than a 50 percent increase in suits challenging sexual harassment over fiscal year 2017.

This surge in claims is both unsurprising and artificially low. These numbers only reflect charges filed with, and cases filed by, the EEOC. They do not reflect claims that never reach the EEOC or court because the employer stepped up and handled them internally. Anecdotally, I can report that employers are being much more proactive in their handling of harassment allegations.

And this is the likely legacy of #MeToo—victims are less likely to stay quiet and are more likely to report. Bystanders are more likely to say something when the see something. Employers are less likely to sweep complaints under the rug and are more likely to investigate and correct.

As the Kavanaugh hearings illustrated, we still have a long way to go as a society. However, the first year of #MeToo has been a giant step in the right direction.

* Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash