Action Can Set A New Tone

It seems like every day we hear a new story about sexual harassment. What was once whispered in back corners at work is now making headline news. More and more women today are being empowered to share their story, say enough, and take back their dignity.

Just about every woman I know has experienced some form of inappropriate behavior. From the slip of the hand, to the condescending comment, to the dirty joke, it’s something most of us can relate to.

I recently spoke with former Fox News Channel host, Gretchen Carlson, to discuss this prominent issue and to learn what she believes are ways that women can reclaim their power against injustice and abuse.

Gretchen has experienced sexual harassment multiple times throughout her career. As a Fox employee, she accused Roger Ailes, the then chairman of Fox News, of sexual advances and persistent harassment in the newsroom. He was considered one of the most powerful men in television news. Her decision to file a law suit against Fox cleared the way for a national dialog that has empowered more and more women to speak out and be heard.

Gretchen knew of the consequences of coming forward; that she would be maligned and labeled a liar. But even though the person who hurt her was extremely powerful, she took action. According to Gretchen, “Courage is a building process. It’s not something that you decide to do overnight, this kind of a decision, it was the most excruciating choice of my life.”

Gretchen believes that men must join the fight to help women gain courage.

She advises men and women to stop being enablers of this kind of behavior. If you witness or hear about harassment, say something. According to Gretchen, when a harasser gets away with an inappropriate action, it normalizes the culture and the behavior escalates, often with others joining in. Action can set a new tone.

If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, Gretchen recommends that you consult an attorney to know your rights and understand your company’s policies and procedures. She also advises that you document everything that has occurred and that you bring the documentation home so that you always have access to it. She believes that it’s important to tell at least two colleagues so you have witnesses against a he said/she said situation. And, always have a plan. Do not rush off emotionally and take action. Think it through and know the steps you will take.

Unfortunately, so many women have a story to share. With the media attention and changing views surrounding sexual harassment, now is a good time to be heard. Stand your ground, speak your truth, and know you are not alone!

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