Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR
A recent article in Institutional Investor mentions thoughts from PondelWilkinson’s president, Evan Pondel, about what he feels will be the next big crisis likely for Public Relations pros to prepare for on their clients’ behalf – wait for it – sexual harassment. At this point, that’s probably something that should be prepared for by every sector. What was swept under the rug and not mentioned for the last 20 years is now bursting out of file cabinets and cupboards into the light of day.
Hollywood has watched its giants falling, sports broadcasting and other networks also face industry moguls doing their best to skulk away and fade into the background. Industries where the top leaders are primarily male and who have had a great deal of power within their realms are likely to become prime hunting ground for the #metoo groups.
Pondel said, “The shoe has yet to drop for the corporate set. But it’s coming, and IROs need to lock arms with their HR and legal counterparts to get ready for the day when a major shareholder calls and asks just exactly what the company’s harassment policy is and how many complaints were recorded in the last 12 months.” That’s when it will all hit the fan.
Depending on what group you talk to, it’s estimated to be between one in four, and one in two women is or has been sexually harassed in the working world. So how can a financial communications specialist help clients to prepare in advance? If every other woman in a company has been sexually harassed, now that the pattern has been started, how likely is it that a large corporation will begin to see charges happening.
If other industries are anything to go by, getting the right reaction quickly can make all the difference. But caution needs to be taken too so that action isn’t taken erroneously, firing someone who is not guilty.
Maybe the best approach should be establishing rules and patterns for investigation and eventual transparency of the outcome of such investigations. This should also be the route to take for other types of crises in any industry.
At least one group of institutional investors formed the Human Capital Management Coalition, believing that when employees are happy in their jobs, it contributes to long-term value for the shareholders. They are pushing for more public entities to share workplace culture, health, safety, productivity, incentives, compensation and demographics for study and understanding. Are you ready to help your clients set up protocols to protect their organization and their future?