Do You Have a Harvey Weinstein in Your Organization?

By: Christina M. Reger 

Unless you have been on a deserted island this past week, with no access to social media, you have heard the stories about Harvey Weinstein.  In case you missed it, you can get the details here and here

 Sexual harassment can happen in every organization — some industries more than others.  However, how a company handles complaints — or even whispers — of sexual harassment (or assault!) will have a significant impact. 

It seems incredible that the Board at the Weinstein Company did not know about the antics of its founder.  Yet, many a company will turn a blind eye to the actions of its executive, its top performer or its best salesperson. 

Doing so will (not may) have severe ramifications for the company.  First it sends a message of unacceptable behavior which will permeate the organization’s culture.  Second, it rewards the wrong individual and legitimizes the conduct.  And, third, it could have disastrous effects for the company once exposed. 

So, what is a company to do? 

First:  Investigate the conduct — even if you do not have an official complaint, but merely whisperings in the office (or apublic acknowledgement at the Oscars).  Do not hesitate to properly investigate the conduct alleged.  Hire an outside investigation firm or contact your attorney for guidance. 

Second, if the evidence warrants, take action.  Even if the person is your top performer, CEO, or best salesperson.  Sexual harassment is inexcusable.  Yes, even for you, Harvey Weinstein.