The Me Too Movement was in full force this time last year. The movement is important as women need to be heard, and if necessary, action taken. The movement gives women a voice; it also spreads fear, mostly among men. The Me Too Movement was targeted at victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault – much of which occurred in the halls and offices of Hollywood power players. Women of power and prestige who experienced sexual assault and/or sexual harassment have used any platform possible to call out injustice and reinforce the value of women in society. The message has gone beyond sexual harassment to additional topics such as pay inequity, discrimination, and inequality for women.
I write about this topic with a bit of reticence as it has become such a strong divider among people. Men, those who have not committed sexual assault or sexual harassment, are often held in the same category as those who have committed sexual crimes. The blurring of equal rights with sexual abuse has begun to confuse us. It is true women are still not earning the same pay as men in similar positions, and this is not fair. It is also true that men and women working together has become more uncomfortable, unfortunately. It can become a ‘walking on egg shells’ scenario, if left unchecked, that deters us from our purpose.
If a woman has experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment, then she now has a stronger platform upon which to stand with the Me Too Movement. I hope most women have not experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment in the workplace, and I wonder whether workplace emotional abuse is even more common. Behaviors such as bullying, power imbalance, intimidation, manipulation, and isolation are all forms of psychological abuse that can result in anxiety, depression and PTSD. And the kicker here is that women are just as likely to psychologically abuse a man as the other way around.
I titled this article “Me too; Us too” because we’ve got to get it together. Women and men need to work together. Women and women need to work together. Men need to work with men. We’ve got to learn to get along, don’t we? We’ve got to learn to respect other humans. Races. Genders. Colors.
I contend the effectiveness of any organization relies upon the psychological well-being of its leaders, particularly senior leaders. Toxic leadership has become a catch phrase, as if it’s a new phenomenon. Leaders have been toxic since the beginning of time. But now organizational researchers are examining it. In fairly recent article, Mehta & Meheshwari (2013) demonstrated the negative effects of toxic leadership on employee morale, job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Whether anecdotally or empirically, we know that we aren’t always treating each other well, and the outcomes of this behavior are not good.
So, with this post, I ask us all to consider Me Too Us Too as a new movement. Can we develop a sense of humility, healthy ego, instill appropriate conflict management, workplace professionalism, and civility moving into 2019? Our global economies, sense of safety, environment, educational systems, governments, healthcare organizations, entrepreneurial ventures, and all the rest all rely upon adults, men and women, to work together.
And finally, remember. A word or act that takes a second can have a lifetime effect on someone. Tread carefully. Tweet less.
Jennifer Moss Breen