5 Simple Things Any Executive Can Do to Combat Sexual Harassment at Work

November 14, 2017, 2:35 AM UTC

Sexual harassment isn’t a problem any one person can solve. Instead, it’s something all of us need to take on and chip away at, bit by bit.

Speakers on a Monday afternoon panel at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. had a few tactical suggestions for what any executive can do to help foster a workplace culture in which all employees feel comfortable and safe.

1. Don’t protect harassers.

Niniane Wang, founder and CEO of Evertoon, called for an end to the use of non-disclosure agreements to protect perpetrators. “Don’t use NDAs to silence women,” Wang told the Fortune audience. The entrepreneur was one of three women who took down former Binary Capital partner Justin Caldbeck, a process she said took 100 hours. It was well worth it, however: “Within a week we got the resignation of our harasser. [His] fund was canceled—and it was only the third fund ever to be canceled.”

2. Believe victims.

Filmmaker Amy Ziering, the woman behind The Hunting Ground, a film about campus rape, said that one of the most basic things on can do is to believe survivors—a principle she said was thought of as audacious just two years ago. Now with the #MeToo movement—a social media campaign ignited after the harassment and rape allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein came to light—”we’re at a tremendously exciting and new time,” Ziering told the MPW crowd. “This is a moment. We must seize it and we must not turn back from it.”

3. Use the democratic process.

Stanford law professor Michele Landis Dauber advised women to “utilize the processes of democratic accountability to hold perpetrators responsible.” Dauber is currently leading the campaign to recall Judge Aaron Persky, the judge who sentenced Stanford Brock Turner to only six months in county jail and three years probation for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman last year.

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4. Push for gender parity.

When an institution is equal in terms of gender, sexual harassment can become a non-issue. “When you get to half, a lot of this stuff just falls away,” said Christa Quarles, CEO of Opentable. In a Medium post published Monday, she wrote: “I believe that once you have the power to change the rules of the game, you must do so. Not because it’s a woman’s issue, but because it’s about getting the best outcome for your company and ensuring all of the voices in your company have an opportunity to make an impact.”

5. Let your face speak for you.

If you’re not brave enough—or simply not in a position—to do any of the above, you can still affect change, said Wang. “You can create change just by frowning when someone makes a comment or a joke you don’t like. Over time you can ramp up to speaking up and pounding the table.”

See the full agenda for the Next Gen Summit and watch live via live stream here.

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