What To Do About The Nation's Other Epidemic

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Women are being believed.

That is, in many ways, the most remarkable change that's taken place since the bombshell sexual harassment allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein finally transformed into something more than whispered Hollywood gossip and rose to the level of legitimate international scandal, featuring shocking and, sadly, not-so-shocking details ranging from uncomfortable innuendo to full-on sexual assault. It took decades, and it took scores of women coming forward and corroborating one another's stories, but the women accusing Weinstein of misconduct are being believed now. And it didn't happen a moment too soon.

After witnessing the spectacles surrounding Clarence Thomas, Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly and Donald Trump, it was easy to believe that the best an accuser could typically hope for was a deferred simulacrum of justice. A payout, maybe, along with a demand to keep silent. Or, in rare cases, the satisfaction of seeing their harasser's public image tarnished a bit—that is, until the boys-will-be-boys culture eventually buffed out the nicks and scuffs and his career arc continued upward, unimpeded.

We live in a post-Weinstein world now. Women are coming forward and speaking out. Social media is awash in #MeToo hashtags as women tell their tales of harassment and assault—an at times stunning experience for men who had previously been unaware of this aspect of women's everyday reality.

Like contrails that trailed Weinstein's abrupt nose-dive to earth, the careers of other men in media, entertainment, business and, of course, politics, are similarly being disrupted as women grow increasingly confident that they will be believed when they call out their harassers. The wave is even hitting Springfield, where an A-list of prominent political women co-signed an open letter with more than 140 signatures that argues Illinois politics is not immune to sexual harassment. "Ask any woman who has lobbied the halls of the Capitol, staffed council chambers, or slogged through brutal hours on the campaign trail," the letter states. "Misogyny is alive and well in this industry."

Because so much of this harassment happens in the workplace, wise HR managers everywhere should be dusting off their employee handbooks and reviewing their strategies for responding to harassment when it happens—and preventing it in the first place. There are some long-term solutions to begin working toward right now: Promote more women into positions of leadership within your organizations. And embrace mentorship. If you're looking for a good place to start, emulate the practices of the five standout mentors to women profiled in the Oct. 30 issue of Crain's. Mentorship builds healthy relationships and promotes transparency—two of the best antidotes to a harassment culture.

Strategies like these take time to show effects. In the meantime, here are a few simple pointers for men that should produce much more immediate results. If a woman comes to you for, say, a job interview, assume she's looking to contribute to your organization and perhaps even put food on her family's table, not looking for a roll in the hay. Or if a woman approaches you for career advice, assume she's eager to put her professional abilities to the highest possible use, not looking for a roll in the hay. If a woman is walking past you toward the coffee machine, assume she's getting a midafternoon pick-me-up, not looking for a roll in the hay.

Got it? Good.

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Source : http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20171103/ISSUE07/171109951/what-to-do-about-the-nations-other-epidemic

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