One of Talkpoint’s Guiding Principles is to ‘name the elephants’ and, as Sarah Silverman so eloquently says in her video breaking her silence about her good friend Louis CK, it’s time to talk about “the elephant masturbating in the room“.
When this domino effect of sexual assault revelations commenced, we cheered on those who found the courage to stand up to Harvey Weinstein. We even shared our own #metoo stories. And then hung our heads in despair that our beloved Louis CK turned out not to be the man we hoped he was.
It’s easy to label people as good or bad, right or wrong, them or us, but it’s rarely helpful. Yes, these men have done bad things and yes, we need to speak the truth and take a stand against sexual assault. But the last thing we need is for men to get stuck in shame and women to be consumed by anger. It’s complicated, it’s about power not sex, and together we need to find a way towards reconciliation.
In Louis’ confession he states he thought he had consent but goes on to acknowledge the power dynamic meant these women didn’t feel safe to say no. It’s critical that we become conscious of the imbalances of power that exist in every workplace.
Ask yourself, does your organisation:
- encourage experimentation by saying it’s “safe to fail” and then threaten to cut costs if targets are not met?
- provide fabulous flexible working and paternity leave policies but fail to promote those who take advantage of them?
- promise a safe workplace knowing there is at least one high performer who is “a bit sleazy” or “a bit of a bully”?
So what do we do? We acknowledge the complexity, that none of us are 100% good or bad, and that to err is human. And we keep talking, we have conversations that matter and we take steps to ensure our employees feel genuinely safe – psychologically safe. Safe to: say no; take risks; be themselves; speak their mind and, of course, keep naming those creepy elephants.
If you’d like Talkpoint’s help to have these conversations in your workplace, drop me a line.