Sexual harassment affects more than just celebrities, consultant says

Published: Nov. 30, 2017 at 4:35 PM AKST
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From Capitol Hill to Hollywood, for several weeks now, there have been reports of high-profile, powerful men, being accused of sexual assault or sexual harassment. There is also the tide of #MeToo stories flooding social media.

The allegations are in addition to women coming forward with stories of sexual assault against Hollywood moguls such as Harvey Weinstein and journalists like NBC's Matt Lauer, CBS' Charlie Rose and top NPR personalities as well.

While those situations get the most attention, Lynne Curry, who leads a consulting company for human resources and other workplace issues, says the problem is bigger than most people realize.

"It's a huge problem in the corporate world," Curry said, "there are some organizations that have more harassment than others, but I don't know of a corporation where there isn't some level of problem."

Curry says sexual harassment can be as small as someone making an inappropriate joke to unwanted touching.

"It's conduct that is sexual, that is not welcome, that impacts someone's work," Curry said.

Curry says now is the time for companies to take a second look at their sexual harassment policies. If a smaller company doesn't have an HR department, she suggests that an independent third party, like an attorney, investigate a situation if an employee says someone is being sexually harassed.

She said she is hopeful bad behavior at work will diminish.

"I hope so, it may change the culture because so many people are aware that it is as pervasive as it is and that the consequences of it are really getting to a lot of people," Curry said. "To be as highly placed as Charlie Rose or Matt Lauer or Harvey Weinstein and to suddenly lose their entire career, and maybe going to prison, that sends a strong message."

Her biggest piece of advice to people who question their own behavior is this: "You're at work, so act like it. Act like you're at work."