As a consultant who has been working very closely with business clients over a career span of four generations, I can safely say that I have never witnessed a more pronounced movement than #MeToo. Like the majority of us, it has caused me to reflect and consider my feelings and words at this time.

I have experienced situations that align with the call for action first-hand as well as through the sharing of countless stories by my clients. Everything from pay inequity, to missing a promotion despite superior performance, workplace etiquette, or a boss who is a bully, there are very few subjects that I have not addressed in one way or another. Yes, even sexual harassment ranging from an insensitive yet a seemingly innocuous remark to full-fledged intrusion into not only someone’s personal space but heart and mind as well. Harassment in any form is intolerable, and the #MeToo movement has brought an important and dare I say long-simmering issue to a full rapid boil.

The challenge we now face, is how do “WE,” both men and women, move forward?

What We Do Next

While the wounds of revelation regarding the #MeToo movement are still fresh, and understandably both upsetting and incendiary, I believe that now is the time to lay the foundation for a new and better relationship reality between men and women in the workplace.

We need to engage and educate in a mutually productive fashion that doesn’t intensify the current rift between some men and women but closes the divide through awareness, mutual respect, and positive action.  We cannot simply hope that acknowledgment of the problem alone is enough. Nor can we allow the pendulum of needed change to swing so far to the other side that we alienate.

This need to come together for a shared or united good is one of the reasons why I am very concerned by the growing number of makeshift workshops that focus on “legalities” and “sexual harassment” bylaws. Taking a legalistic approach will not lead to enlightenment and collaboration, but will likely usher in a dark era of protectionism that will limit interaction between men and women to a dutiful and muted exchange that will have a negative impact on “individual” as well as organizational success.

The above concern takes on an even greater sense of importance and urgency regarding the next generation entering the workforce as illustrated by the findings from a recent study. According to a recent poll, there is a significant discrepancy between what young men and women consider to be inappropriate office behavior.

Given this data, we have to ask ourselves if a legalistic approach can effectively address the problems brought to public awareness by the #MeToo movement, especially given what appears to be a disconnect between men and women of the next generation. I do not believe it will.

I believe that there is a better way.

What Unites Us Is Stronger Than What Divides Us

As men and women, we need to find common ground that not only ensures individual success but shared success as well; and that common ground does exist.

In the coming weeks, I will be launching a new series of podcasts and in-house workshops that will create a road map for how men and women colleagues can better communicate and collaborate in our post #MeToo world.

Stay tuned.

Roz

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