- Business and Employment
How Harvey Weinstein Escaped from Sexual Harassment Charges for Decades
The series of crimes, done by famous Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, has raised concerns across the globe and a big question “How did he get away with Sexual Harassment Crimes at Workplace for such a long time?”
Though his undiscovered frequent sexual attacks and harassment cases are of extremely serious concern, the situation is a result of huge systematic failures that occurred due to the silence of HR and employers.
1. Extreme level of tolerance for Sexual Assault across the Industries
It is quite straightforward to go with the old practice that says, “If you do me a favor, then I will help you become successful in your career”. Sadly, this practice is still prevalent in most of the industries, whether it is entertainment, tech or any other work environment.
The practice of casting couch is quite common in the entertainment industries, whether it is Hollywood or Bollywood or any other film industry. But, the notion that each woman has to pay something for something to reach higher in their career is present in every field. There are so many women, who work in fund-raising and have to be polite all the time and happily accept all those hugs and kisses they receive from big donors.
Besides this, women have to suffer from the similar situation even in Silicon Valley. Women often have to hear salacious rants about their sexual inclination and relationships. While conducting a show on broadcast news, they are supposed to be amused by the way, the chairman would talk about their legs. For the amount of time, women have spent in the workplace; they have been made to tolerate all these nuisances as a cost of earning a penny alongside their male counterpart.
2. Consideration of Predatory Behavior to be Normal in the Workplace
Weinstein’s scandalous activities happened in a very systematic pattern: recognizing new actresses and employees, asking an assistant to schedule the meeting with them in a hotel room, inviting the person to his room and forcing them to give him some sexual favours in return of huge career growth. All these activities were performed with the help of company employees.
His company assistants, producers and executives appear to have normalized his actions and fully abetted them. A document revealed that the employees were, knowingly or unwittingly, tied under secret agreement.
Lauren O’ Connor, who was ordered by his boss to have the job discussions only with those actresses who agreed to meet him privately in his hotel room, distributed the memos regarding the series of sexual assaults that took place at the company. She further added that she and other female employees were asked to initiate liaisons with new and vulnerable women.
3. Ineffectiveness of HR in Handling these Issues
Most of the people readily asked the same question, “Why were these activities not reported to HR manager?” The failure of management and ineffectiveness of HR made it difficult for the people to get protected when they needed it the most.
Many of the employees, who previously worked for Weinstein, described the management system to be quite ineffective; one of the female executives explained that when they would go to report any such incident of misconduct, then the department people used to ignore the issues by saying, “He owns the company. If you are not comfortable, then you can go.”
Undoubtedly, how can an HR decide to prefer the employees over the extremely powerful company owner? Who knows, for how long the industry might continue to fight with this question?
4. Power of Status and Open Secrets
The way Weinstein conducted all these sexual activities was known to too people, but nothing was done about it earlier. It was nothing, but an open secret. Many high ranked people were aware of the manner, Weinstein used to work, but no one dared to throw the spotlight on this scandal until now.
Besides Harvey Weinstein, there are other VIP people, who had taken advantage of their rank and were involved in such sexual allegations in the past, such as Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, and O.J. Simpson to name a few.
5. Entrapment of Agreements and Payouts
The employees, working under Weinstein, were forced to follow a code of silence that discouraged them to criticize the company or its management, which could cause the defamation of the business and its employees. Also, most of the women signed the agreements and restricted themselves from discussing the details and events that led them to receive their payouts.
They were also made to sign NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements), which are quite common in industries related to advertising, media, publishing and entertainment.
But, it is all up to HR, they must rethink their value. Everyone must be clear that if employees are not allowed to disclose the deals, they must have full rights to openly discuss their experiences, especially when such realistic stories help others to stay away from the negativity and protect them from harassment.