After #MeToo, What Fox News Knew, and Susan Fowler’s Latest Interview: Broadsheet for Oct. 23
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Claire Zillman (@clairezillman) here, filling in for Kristen and Val. Bill O’Reilly’s whopper of a sexual harassment settlement didn’t disrupt his Fox News contract renewal, ex-Uber engineer Susan Fowler gives a new interview, and we examine what comes after #MeToo. Have a productive Monday.
• #MeToo to what next? It’s been a full seven days since a single tweet launched a monumental week in women’s fight for safety and respect in the workplace.
Last Sunday night, actress Alyssa Milano started a social media campaign to draw attention to the epidemic of sexual harassment and assault, relying on the #MeToo battle cry first taken up by rape and trauma victim advocate Tarana Burke a decade ago.
We all know what came next: Women answered Milano’s call by the millions, coming forward with tales of abuse that put the ugly side women’s work lives on open, graphic display.
What’s less clear is what happens now; what actions can actually reduce sexual misconduct in the workplace now that so many women have borne witness to its existence? Fortune posed this query to experts in the field and received some thoughtful responses:
Burke, the originator of the Me Too movement, pointed to the need for more accountability for perpetrators and bystanders. “[Those] who see harassment in action should one, let the victim know they are supported (this doesn’t have to be a big grandiose gesture but some show of support), and two, don’t tolerate it. Full stop.”
Janine Yancey, founder and CEO of Emtrain, says corporations shouldn’t oversee their own employees’ complaints of unwanted sexual advances. Instead, she wants an outside, public website where victims can log complaints.
Leigh Gilmore, Wellesley College professor and author of Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives, says workplaces ought to collect data on sexual harassment the same way they do info on health and safety. “They can then assess the level of the problem—even when women do not feel safe to speak out—and take action,” she says.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had the following suggestion in a report published last year: Reward managers—at least initially—for increases in sexual harassment complaints in their divisions since such upticks indicate that they are fostering environments in which employees trust the system.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Hits keep coming. This week’s headlines are starting where last week’s left off, with women streaming forward to accuse powerful men of sexual misconduct. Here are a few such stories that broke this weekend:
- Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson is reportedly facing a crisis related to allegations that the mutual fund giant abides by a boys’ club mentality following the ouster of Gavin Baker. The star stock picker was fired last month amid sexual harassment accusations. Baker denies the claims.
- 38 women accuse film director James Toback of sexual harassment. Toback denied the allegations to the L.A. Times, saying that he had never met any of the women or, if he did, it “was for five minutes and have no recollection.”
- 25 women accuse John Besh, celebrity chef and restauranteur, of fostering a culture of sexual harassment. In a statement to The Times-Picayune, Besh acknowledged a “consensual relationship with one member of my team” and took responsibility for “moral failings.”
• More #MeToos. Meanwhile, NBC’s Meet the Press featured more appalling #MeToo stories, this time from U.S. senators. The program asked all 21 women in the Senate if they had tales of sexual harassment; four came forward—all Democrats. Fortune
• Carlson’s call-out. According to a New York Times report, Fox News renewed host Bill O’Reilly’s contract for $25 million a year last February despite knowing about a $32 million settlement he’d reached with a network analyst who’d accused him of sexual harassment, including claims of a non-consensual sexual relationship. Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who filed her own sexual harassment lawsuit against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes in 2016, called the decision “horrifying” and tweeted: “Nobody pays $32M for false allegations—nobody.” Fortune
• Breaking her silence. Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson who was killed in Niger, told Good Morning America this morning that she has “nothing to say” to President Donald Trump, whose condolence call last week pulled her into a national controversy. “[I]t made me cry even worse,” she said of their exchange. Washington Post
• Badge of honor. In her first interview since her now-famous blog post, ex-Uber engineer Susan Fowler reflects on her decision to go public and the reality that she’d be pigeon-holed as a whistle-blower: “[I]f what people know you for is bringing light to an issue about bad behavior, about bad stuff going on and laws not being followed and people being treated inappropriately, why wouldn’t I want that? That’s a badge of honor.” New York Times
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jeannine Sargent, president of innovation and new ventures at Flex, has left the company and is moving into a tech investing venture.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Being fat in France. On Ne Naît Pas Grosse (One Is Not Born Fat) by Gabrielle Deydier has become a media sensation in France for exposing the way overweight people there face censure in society at large, including by medical professionals. The book’s candid account is considered a first in France where celebrating one’s girth is almost unheard of. New York Times
• Teenage dream. The Guardian has the fascinating story of Thennamadevi, an Indian village racked by alcoholism where teenage girls have effectively taken control. The “young girls’ club,” as they call themselves, has repaired street lights, executed a health audit of the village, and ensured the arrival of mobile medical clinics. “The phenomenon of teenage female self-help,” The Guardian reports, “has made aid agencies and politicians across the state sit up and take notice.” Guardian
• An ‘unmanned’ flight. Southwest Airlines last week celebrated the first “unmanned” flight of its new fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, tweeting a photo of the plane’s all-female crew, which included two women pilots. The occurrence is indeed uncommon in the aviation industry, where just 6.7% of pilots are women. Huffington Post
ON MY RADAR
The new book that puts tech’s sexism scandals into perspective Fortune
Ivanka Trump hits the road to sell tax reform, child tax credit Axios
Meet the only all-female Irish whiskey company in the world Fortune
Troubled by Flint’s water crisis, an 11-year-old girl invents lead-detecting device NPR